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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 530534, 10 pages
Research Article

Psychosocial Factors Associated with Longevity in the United States: Age Differences between the Old and Oldest-Old in the Health and Retirement Study

Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, 3715 McClintock Avenue, Room 218C, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191, USA

Received 16 March 2011; Revised 16 June 2011; Accepted 16 July 2011

Academic Editor: Peter Martin

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer A. Ailshire and Eileen M. Crimmins. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Recent growth in the number of adults surviving to advanced ages raises questions about the quality of life associated with increased longevity. Psychosocial factors have received relatively little attention in research on quality of life among the oldest-old. This study uses nationally representative data on older US adults to examine how social relationships, feelings of loneliness, and satisfaction with life and the aging experience differ between the oldest-old, those who have survived to age 90 or older, and older adults in their 70s. We find that the oldest-old are able to maintain social relationships with family and friends and receive more social support than younger elderly adults. Yet, the oldest-old are more likely to feel lonely due to their greater rates of widowhood. Satisfaction with life was higher among the oldest-old, but the oldest-old had more negative perceptions of the aging experience. Psychosocial dimensions of longevity should be considered in research on quality of life among the oldest-old.