What Attributes of Successful Aging Are Important to Older Adults?: The Development of a Multidimensional Definition of Successful Aging

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Older adults’ experiences and perspectives have been missing in the quest to develop a unified definition of successful aging. Through an online survey using convenience sampling, respondents (N = 477) were asked to report how important 25 specific attributes of successful aging, originating from published literature that examined successful aging from the perspective of older adults, were to them as they age. Over 90% of respondents reported 11 attributes as important or very important to them as they age, which included “remaining free of chronic diseases” and “feeling good about myself.” A factor analysis (N = 462) resulted in four dimensions explaining 57.06% of the variance: Adaptation and Coping; Being Healthy; Self-Determination; and Social Relationships and Interactions. The findings revealed older adults’ definition of what is important to them as they age is multidimensional, with having access to affordable health care and remaining alert and mentally active as critical elements followed by elements of self-determination, coping, and physical and social health. Future research should replicate the study with diverse populations to continue to refine a definition of successful aging that could influence program development and intervention approaches in health and social services.