HEIDI DOUGLASS | firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers from UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) have explored the level of life satisfaction of near centenarians and centenarians to gain better understanding of ways to enhance the wellbeing of people with exceptional longevity.
This project is the largest study of its kind to examine the psychological health of 95+ year olds in Australia and was led by Medical Honours Student Adrian Cheng under the supervision of CHeBA Co-Director Professor Henry Brodaty, Study Co-ordinator of ICC-Dementia Dr Yvonne Leung and Research Assistant Fleur Harrison.
The research, which used data collected from 207 participants in CHeBA’s Sydney Centenarian Study, compared the overall life satisfaction of near centenarians and centenarians with that of 1032 participants from a younger age group from CHeBA’s Memory and Ageing Study (70-90 year olds).
The findings, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, also investigated risk and protective factors for distress in centenarians and near centenarians.
Near centenarians and centenarians affirmed higher levels of distress than their younger counterparts from the Memory and Ageing Study. Among the older group increased psychotropic medication use and having contacts with fewer relatives and friends were significantly associated with higher level of recent psychological distress.
However, when participants were questioned about their overall satisfaction with their lives, it was the near centenarian and centenarian group that rated significantly higher than the younger-old.
“People aged between 90 and 99 are Australia’s fastest-growing age group,” said CHeBA Co-Director Professor Henry Brodaty and co-author on the research.
“This research indicates that a greater level of social connectedness through family and friends indicates a higher level of life satisfaction in near centenarians and centenarians,” said Professor Brodaty.
The research, for which Adrian Cheng received First Class Honours, contributes to the small body of research on the psychological health of the oldest-old.
“This research highlights the specific needs of the oldest-old and has implications for the prevention of psychological morbidity and interventions, such as development of services and improved care, to better understand the wellbeing of this special population,” said Professor Brodaty.
Adrian Cheng was a CHeBA Honours Student in 2018.
Heidi Douglass, Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), 0435 579 202