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Late-Life Decline in Well-Being across Adulthood in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States: Something Is Seriously Wrong at the End of Life

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Denis Gerstorf, Nilam Ram, Guy Mayraz, Mira Hidajat, Ulman Lindenberger, Gert G. Wagner, Jürgen Schupp

In: Psychology and Aging 25 (2010), 2, S. 477-485

Abstract

Throughout adulthood and old age, levels of well-being appear to remain relatively stable. However, evidence is emerging that late in life well-being declines considerably. Using long-term longitudinal data of deceased participants in national samples from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, we examined how long this period lasts. In all 3 nations and across the adult age range, well-being was relatively stable over age but declined rapidly with impending death. Articulating notions of terminal decline associated with impending death, we identified prototypical transition points in each study between 3 and 5 years prior to death, after which normative rates of decline steepened by a factor of 3 or more. The findings suggest that mortality-related mechanisms drive late-life changes in well-being and highlight the need for further refinement of psychological concepts about how and when late-life declines in psychosocial functioning prototypically begin.

Jürgen Schupp

Senior Research Fellow in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department

Topics: Well-being, Health

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