The Components of Well-Being Among Older Persons: A Longitudinal Perspective.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Two Swedish longitudinal cohort studies form the basis for this thesis that examines the components of well-being from young old to oldest old. The Lund 80+ cross-sequential design began in 1988 when participants were 80-years old (N=212) and follows them annually until all are deceased. The Dalby 67 began in 1969 when participants were 67 years old (N=192) and continued until they reached 92 years. Both projects include full social, psychological, and physical investigations. For this thesis, Studies I and II are based on data from the Lund 80+ project and Studies III and IV data from the Dalby 67 project. Study I examined the relationship between family and friend social support, health, and life satisfaction at 80 and 83 years. Results indicated that participants who remained in the study were not only healthier, but also had higher life satisfaction compared with those who dropped out or died prior to 83 years. In contrast to prior research, neither child nor friend support was related to life satisfaction at 80 or 83 years (even though contact remained frequent) while health was significant only at 83 years. This suggests the mulitdimensionality of life satisfaction and the variability among very old persons. Study II examined the psychosocial and health characteristics and the pattern of informal and formal support from 80 to 82 years. Results showed that only loneliness was significantly associated with receipt of formal support over the three year period. There were no significant changes in health measures and change in support status. These findings show that loneliness often accompanies the need for increased support with age. Study III focused on the correlates of loneliness from young 67 to 92 years. Typical correlates of loneliness such as living alone, gender, and contact with children were not associated with loneliness at any age. “Time passes slowly” and “Poor life adjustment” (evaluated by the interviewer), were significantly associated with loneliness at 67 and 92 years. Even though contact with others remained frequent, the proportion who reported loneliness increased from 67 to 92 years. These results indicate the multidimensionality of loneliness and the need for interventions at all ages to prevent loneliness and activities to offset boredom. Study IV examined the correlates of well-being as measured by an interviewer evaluation of adjustment to aging at 67, 84, and 92 years. Only cognitive and psychological factors were associated with adjustment to aging at all ages. Marital status and contact with children were significant at 67 years only while health measures were not associated with adjustment at any age. External assessments are valid as supplements to self-reports. We conclude that participants who remain in longitudinal studies may represent an elite picture of aging, cultural variations are significant when considering the impact of social support and health on well-being, loneliness and boredom may be accompaniments of advancing years, and correlates of well-being vary with age.


  • Cheryl McCamish-Svensson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • Socialpsykologi, Social psychology, Psykologi, Psychology, Qualitative., Loneliness, Social Support, Life Satisfaction, Well-Being, Longitudinal, Gerontology, Gerontologi
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2002 Apr 12
  • Cheryl McCamish-Svensson, 241 Evening Canyon Road, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, USA,
Print ISBNs91-628-5177-2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2002-04-12 Time: 10:15 Place: Carolinasalen, Kungshuset External reviewer(s) Name: Tornstam, Lars Title: Professor Affiliation: [unknown] --- Article: I. McCamish-Svensson, C., Samuelsson, G., Hagberg, B., Svensson, T., & Dehlin, O. (1999). Social relationships and health as predictors of life satisfaction in advanced old age: Results from a Swedish longitudinal study. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 48 (4), 301-324. Article: II. McCamish-Svensson, C., Samuelsson, G., Hagberg, B., Svensson, T., & Dehlin, O. (1999). Informal and formal support from a multi-disciplinary perspective: A Swedish follow-up between 80 and 82 years of age. Health and Social Care in the Community, 7 (3), 1-14. Article: III. McCamish-Svensson, C., Samuelsson, G., & Hagberg, B. (2001). Correlates and prevalence of loneliness from young old to oldest old: Results from a Swedish cohort. Hallym International Journal of Aging, 3 (1), 1 - 24. Article: IV. McCamish-Svensson, C., Samuelsson, G., & Hagberg, B. (submitted). The correlates of adjustment to aging from young old to oldest old: Findings from a Swedish cohort. Submitted for publication.