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Age and decline in role-specific feelings of control

Publication Abstract

Krause, Neal. 2007. "Age and decline in role-specific feelings of control." The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 62(1): S28-35.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to see if feelings of control over highly valued social roles decline across late life. I also made an effort to see if two types of social support explained age-related decline in control. METHODS: Harris Interactive of New York conducted interviews with a nationwide longitudinal sample of older adults. Survey questions assessed feelings of control over the most highly valued role, anticipated support (i.e., the belief that support will be forthcoming if needed), and enacted support. RESULTS: The data suggested that feelings of control over the most highly valued role tend to decline across late life. The results also revealed that anticipated support is associated with a stronger sense of control over time, but I observed this relationship only through age 75. Beyond that point, anticipated support was less helpful. In contrast, enacted support did not appear to help older people maintain a strong sense of role-specific control at any age. DISCUSSION: Current research has largely been concerned with age-related change in feelings of control over life as a whole. The findings from this study suggest that it may also be helpful to consider control over the most highly valued role while studying this process.

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