Successful aging: Early influences and contemporary characteristics

Rachel A. Pruchno, Maureen Wilson-Genderson, Miriam Rose, Francine Cartwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Purpose: Positing that successful aging has independent, yet related, dimensions that are both objective and subjective, we examine how early influences and contemporary characteristics define 4 groups of people. Design and Methods: Data were gathered from 5,688 persons aged 50-74 years living in New Jersey who participated in telephone interviews. Latent profile analysis defined people who age successfully according to both objective and subjective criteria, neither criteria, and one, but not the other, criteria. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the extent to which early influences and contemporary characteristics predict group membership. Results: Although characteristics observable early in life predict group membership, their influence is modified by current health behaviors and social support. The roles of education and incarceration feature prominently. Marital, work, and volunteer statuses, as well as moderate alcohol consumption, distinguish those aging successfully according to both criteria from the other 3 groups. Implications: Results help to define successful aging as a multidimensional construct having both objective and subjective dimensions, provide greater clarity regarding its correlates, and increase understanding of its modifiable aspects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-833
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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