Self-perceptions of age and illness in older Australian adults
Background: Self-perceptions of age and illness have been independently linked to a range of psychological, psychosocial, and physical health outcomes. However, subjective experiences of illness and ageing in older adults have been examined separately. While both age and illness self-perceptions uniquely contribute to the psychological health of older adults, some findings suggest age and health are intimately linked concepts for this population. The Common- Sense Model (CSM) has been a useful conceptual framework for examining subjective illness representations, and how these guide cognitive and emotional responses to illness experiences. We apply this framework to self-perceptions of ageing. Objective: This study utilised the CSM to concurrently examine age and illness self-perceptions in subjectively healthy versus chronically ill older adults. Method: This study uses a cross-sectional design. Correlational analyses were performed to examine the relationship between age and illness self-perceptions in 194 older, community-dwelling Australian adults (mean age of 65 years) living with (N = 90) and without (N = 104) chronic illness. Participants completed questionnaires which assessed the age and illness dimensions of identity, timeline (cyclical/ acute), control, consequences and emotional representations. The questionnaires were delivered online as part of a larger survey. Results: Preliminary analysis indicates significant relationships between the age and illness dimensions for emotional representations, timeline (cyclical), and control in both the healthy and chronically ill groups. A signifi cant relationship for the consequences dimension was found for the chronically ill group only. Conclusions: The implications of the findings are discussed.
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