The Impact of Life Events on the Oldest Old

Date
2011-01-01
Authors
Martin, Peter
Martin, Peter
Da Rosa, Grace
Poon, Leonard
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Human Development and Family Studies
Abstract

Very old adults have experienced many events in their lives, some many years ago, some more recently. This chapter highlights events perceived as the most important ones in the lives of centenarians. Domain-specific events are also considered in this chapter, including health events, family events, and work events. Finally, the impact of life events on the overall well-being of the oldest-old adults is considered. The evidence suggests that positive cumulative (“lifetime”) events reduce levels of negative affect, whereas cumulative (“lifetime”) negative events promote negative affect. When proximal events (i.e., those experienced in the past 20 years) and distal events (i.e., those experienced more than 20 years ago) are considered, proximal events are more likely to reduce levels of positive affect and enhance levels of negative affect. Distal events, on the other hand, are more likely to enhance overall feelings of positive affect.

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This book chapter is published as Martin, P., da Rosa, G., & Poon, L. W. (2011). The impact of life events on the oldest old. In L. W. Poon & J. Cohen-Mansfield (Eds.), Understanding the well-being of the oldest old (pp. 96-110). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511920974.008. Posted with permission.

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