Successful Aging: Integrating Physical and Social Perspectives into a Continuing Care Retirement Community

The primary purpose of this review of literature was to determine the physical and social factors of long-term care environments that promote “successful” aging for older adults. The determined factors were used to develop a continuing care, retirement community prototype using principles of new urbanism and traditional neighborhood and new elder-friendly design concepts. The study found that an engagement with life and social connections have a significant impact on one’s ability to age successfully. Both the physical and social environments of long-term care play a significant role in creating a sense of community and a higher perceived quality of life.

Self-management, Stress, and Self-esteem in Older Adults

Self-management refers to the ability to take care of oneself on a daily basis. It implies capabilities in activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), as well as social and psychological maintenance. In societies where independence and self-sufficiency are highly valued, self-management may contribute to quality of life. Yet various demographic, health, and social factors may hamper quality of late life. For instance, self-management of the social conditions that may impact older adults’ physical and mental health become more challenging with age. In addition, demographic and family factors are associated with levels of self-management. The current study, based on an IRB approved survey conducted in the Midwest of the United States, examined older adults’ (N = 103, M age = 73.66) self-reported general health, family relationship quality, level of self-management, perceived stress, self-esteem, and demographics. Path analysis revealed that self-reported health and physical activity frequency were significant predictors of self-management; self-management had direct effects on stress, which subsequently predicted participants’ self-esteem. Interestingly, participants’ age or education level had no significant direct effects on self-management in daily life. Interpretations and implications of the findings and ways to enhance older adults’ quality of late life are discussed.

The Ninth Stage of Life: Aging with Enthusiasm

A new stage has been added to the human life cycle due to increasing numbers of the very old. In particular, adults over eighty constitute a new focus for developmental research. These older adults seem to have reached a stage beyond Erikson’s eight stages, first proposed sixty-four years ago. As Joan Erikson suggested, eight stages no longer capture the end of life concerns of this older group. In this paper, I review the research focusing on the self-reports of individuals who are still thriving in their eighties and nineties. I suggest that this research supports a ninth Eriksonian life stage. This ninth stage might be called “Appreciation versus Resignation with the associated strength, Enthusiasm.” A defining aspect of the elders described in the studies cited below is that they express a keen appreciation for their extended years and a determination not to squander them. I discuss implications for practice and for further research.