Successful aging in daily life: findings from a national sample in the United States

Dwight Tse, Linzi Crawford

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Many studies have used static factors such as chronic health conditions to determine whether older adults are on a "successful" aging trajectory characterized by growth and maintenance or a "normal"/pathological one characterized by decline. This overly restrictive approach fails to acknowledge older adults’ resilience and deviates from their perceptions of the concept. Investigating successful aging in relation to daily functioning and experiences helps frame it as more achievable and enhance older adults’ senses of control over their aging trajectories.
Aims: Our first objective was to examine the day-to-day variations of successful aging indicators. The second was to evaluate whether the indicators responded to daily events and whether they were associated with one-time measurements of health, functioning, and well-being.
Methodology: We used data collected in the Midlife in the United States project, in which a US national sample of older adults aged 60–84 (N=961, 43.50% male) completed an 8-day diary study. For successful aging indicators, we extracted daily survey items that measured daily physical symptoms, subjective physical and cognitive functioning, social connectedness, and perceived productivity. Additionally, participants reported the numbers of stressors (e.g., interpersonal conflict) and positive events (e.g., sharing a good laugh) every day. We also combined diary data with one-time measurements of health, functioning, and well-being (e.g., cognitive performance, life satisfaction).
Results: Multilevel modeling revealed that within-person variation accounted for a substantial amount of the variance of daily successful aging. Fewer daily stressors and more positive events was associated positively with most successful aging indicators. Participants who consistently scored high in daily successful aging demonstrated better health, functioning, and well-being as indicated by the one-time measurements.
Conclusion: Our findings challenge the static view of labelling older adults as either “successful” or not. Daily successful aging highlights the possibility of micro-level behavioral changes to achieve desirable aging outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2023
Event18th European Congress of Psychology
- Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Jul 20236 Jul 2023


Conference18th European Congress of Psychology
Abbreviated titleECP 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • daily diary
  • sucessful aging
  • secondary data analysis


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