Beyond Age and Adjustment: A Cross-National Qualitative Study of Older Adults’ Perceptions

Sofia von Humboldt, Isabel Leal, Filipa Pimenta, Georgeta Niculescu


Aims: To explore the older adults’ perceptions of age and aging, focusing on adjustment to aging (AtA) and subjective age (SA). Methods: This cross-national and qualitative study comprised demographics and semistructured interviews. Complete information on 151 older adults aged between 75-101 years (M = 84.6; SD = 6.905) from Portugal, Romania Angola was available. Data was subjected to content analysis. Results: The most predominant response of the interviewed participants for indicators of AtA was ‘existential meaning’ (26.3%), whilst ‘balanced’ (36.5%) was identified as the most prevalent SA response. In total, five categories were identified to be indicative of AtA: ‘sense of purpose and ambitions’, ‘health and wellness’, ‘social support’, ‘stability and accessibility’ and ‘existential meaning’ whereas, four categories were identified for SA: ‘balanced, ‘old’, ‘youthful’ and ‘dissatisfied’. Conclusions: This study highlights the need for a better understanding of what defines AtA and SA among the elderly. Furthermore, health care providers’ awareness of older adults’ conceptualizations will allow them to communicate more effectively and to reinforce aging well among older populations.

Key words: Adjustment to aging; Subjective age; aging well; Older adults; Content analysis


Adjustment to aging, Subjective age, aging well, Older adults, Content analysis


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