A Longitudinal Examination of the Effects of Early Influences and Midlife Characteristics on Successful Aging

Rachel A. Pruchno, Maureen Wilson-Genderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objectives. Previous research revealed that successful aging includes both objective and subjective dimensions. This longitudinal analysis examines how early life influences and midlife characteristics predict stability and change in successful aging over a 4-year period. Method. Data from 3,379 people living in New Jersey who completed baseline telephone interviews between 2006 and 2008 and follow-up mail surveys in 2011 were analyzed. Latent profile analysis identified people who aged successfully according to both objective and subjective criteria, neither criteria, and one, but not the other criteria. Multinomial logistic regressions analyses focused on the 2,614 people who were successful according to both objective and subjective criteria at baseline. Results. At follow-up, 18.1% people successful at baseline had transitioned out of that status. Characteristics identifiable early in life (gender, race, education, never marrying, incarceration) as well as midlife status (currently married, working), health behaviors (smoking, drinking, body mass index, exercise), and social support distinguished people who continued to age successfully 4 years later from those who did not. Discussion. Findings suggest that successful aging is a fluid construct and that although some characteristics identifiable early in life predict successful aging, others are dampened by midlife statuses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-859
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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