Odjel za psihologiju

Determinants of successful aging and longevity: How to age well and achieve a good old age

Ivana Tucak Junaković
Department of Psychology, University of Zadar, Zadar

The extension of the average human lifespan and the increasingly better quality of life in the newer generations of older people, who are more active in social and public life, have increased scientific and professional interest in the positive aspects of aging and old age, and the factors that contribute to longevity and successful aging. Successful aging is one of the most represented but also the most controversial topics in contemporary gerontology. Researchers in this field have reached a consensus that successful aging is a complex multidimensional construct that incorporates various domains of functioning (not just physical) and requires a holistic approach. However, they do not agree on what components this complex construct includes and what is the best way to measure it. In the first part of the lecture, an attempt will be made to explain the concept of successful aging and the differences compared to similar concepts such as healthy, active, productive or quality aging. Furthermore, different theoretical approaches (biomedical, psychosocial and lay model, and the recent holistically oriented multidimensional models of successful aging) and methods of research on successful aging will be presented. Besides, the results of the qualitative study of lay conceptions of successful aging and its determinants, conducted within the research project of the University of Zadar Successful aging: development and validation of an integrated multidimensional model (IP.01.2021.21), will be addressed. The results of the validation of the proposed integrated multidimensional model of successful aging, developed within this project, will also be presented. In the second part of the lecture, the key determinants of successful aging and longevity will be described. They were confirmed by previous research, including those conducted on samples of older people in Croatia, within the research project on successful aging. An attempt will be made to explain in more detail the role of different socio-demographic characteristics, healthy habits and lifestyle, personality traits, psychological resources, close relationships, social participation, and cognitively stimulating activities in the context of successful/active/aging well and improving the quality of life in old age.

Keywords: active aging, determinants of successful aging, longevity, research methods on successful aging, theoretical approaches to successful aging, successful aging