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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 144-155

Predicators of successful aging among academic emeritus


Department of Gerntological Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt

Date of Submission18-Jan-2018
Date of Acceptance07-May-2018
Date of Web Publication12-Nov-2018

Correspondence Address:
Basma S Abd El-Mottelb
Department of Gerntological Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Cairo University, Giza
Egypt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ENJ.ENJ_5_18

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  Abstract 


Introduction Successful or healthy aging is a worldwide concept in gerontology. Older people such as academic emeritus can live healthy and can be economic contributors as well. They continue to be creative, grow, learn, have a network of friends and family, and share their experience in teaching, research, and community services. Gerntological health nurses can play a vital role in promoting health and well-being of the elderly by taking a holistic view of the biopsychosocial health predictors that contribute to successful aging.
Aim The aim of this study was to assess the predictors of successful aging among Cairo University academic emeritus.
Sample A convenience sample of 100 academic emeritus were selected.
Setting The study was conducted in four health sciences sector faculties at Cairo University. An exploratory descriptive research design was utilized.
Tool A structured successful aging questionnaire was developed that included three parts (personal characteristics, assessment of successful aging predictors such as physical health, mental/cognitive well-being, psychological well-being and social engagement, questions about what contributes to successful aging.
Results The results of the study have shown that the majority of academic emeritus were independent, adopted a healthy lifestyle, maintained high resilience, have no depression or cognitive failure and have supportive social networks. Regression analysis showed that the age and total scores of successful aging predictors were significantly associated (P=0.000).
Conclusion Physical independence, lifestyle, cognition, resilience, low depression, and social network contribute to successful aging.
Recommendations Increase the awareness of the elderly about the predictors of successful aging through health education programs and replication of the study on a nationwide scale project.

Keywords: academic emeritus, predictors, successful aging


How to cite this article:
Abd El-Mottelb BS, Mo'Awad E, El-Din SB. Predicators of successful aging among academic emeritus. Egypt Nurs J 2018;15:144-55

How to cite this URL:
Abd El-Mottelb BS, Mo'Awad E, El-Din SB. Predicators of successful aging among academic emeritus. Egypt Nurs J [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Dec 14];15:144-55. Available from: http://www.enj.eg.net/text.asp?2018/15/2/144/245121




  Introduction Top


The 20th century advancement of technology, science, and medicine has contributed to the growing aging population in many countries including Egypt. The WHO estimates that there were 600 million people aged 60 years and older in 2000 and that this will increase to 1.2 billion by 2025 and 2 billion by 2050 (World Health Organization, 2007). Likewise in Egypt, the proportion of the elderly hit about 7.1% of Egypt’s total population, bringing the total number of the elderly to 5.9 million in 2012, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (http://www.capmas.gov/).

Worldwide, population aging leads to an increased societal burden of care. To minimize this tremendous burden on the economies, individuals, families, and communities, it is of major importance to help older adults to age successfully (Committee on Ageing Issues, 2013). Understanding successful aging is, therefore, an important area of research that is of particular relevance and importance in promoting well-being among older adults (Xinyi, 2013). It is also worth saying that many old people are able to guide the young people through various ways. For instance, academic emeritus, a retired college professor, is the resource for providing training, advice, and skills in many fields (Sweed, 2016).

In the existing literature on successful aging, various similar terms, such as ‘healthy aging,’ ‘productive aging,’ ‘aging well,’ and ‘active ageing’ have often been used interchangeably (Kusumastuti et al., 2016). Recently, researchers have proposed a more general definition, made up of six categories involving no physical disability over the age of 75 years as rated by a physician, good self-rated health status, length of undisabled life, good mental health, objective social support, and self-rated life satisfaction in eight domains, namely marriage, income-related work, children, friendship and social contacts, hobbies, community service activities, religion, and recreation/sports. To sum up, there is no single predictor that explains the multifaceted nature of successful aging (Depp et al., 2012).

Physical predictors include healthy behavior such as physical activity, not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, exercise, and eating fruits and vegetables daily (CMAJ, 2012; DOI:10.1503/cmaj.121080). It also includes the absence of major chronic medical conditions such as cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke because these diseases are major causes of death among older adults (McLaughlin et al., 2010; Eime et al., 2015).

Cognition, a mental predictor of successful aging, involves the processes of thinking, learning, and remembering. One of the most significant predictors that promote wellness for older adults is encouraging older adults to engage in activities that foster cognitive fitness such as education that may act as a ‘buffer’ against cognitive impairment, allowing highly educated individuals to tolerate a greater level of neuropathology before experiencing the clinical symptoms of dementia (Stern, 2012).

Psychological health is another predictor of successful aging as there has been an increased interest in the connection between good psychological health and successful aging. In this respect, Jeste et al. (2013) mentioned that resilience and depression had significant associations with self-rated successful aging and psychiatry played an important role for promoting successful aging. Social predictors include happy marriage and social support (Pietrzak and Cook, 2013). Finally, it is important to take a holistic view of what contributes to aging successfully.

Significance of the study

The age structure of the population in most Arab countries has been undergoing dramatic changes as a result of fertility declines and increases in life expectancy (ESCWA, 2010). In Egypt, the proportion of the population aged older than 65 years is projected to reach 30% by 2060. Egypt is also considered the second country of the highest percentage of persons aged 60 years and older (7%) in Arab countries. In light of these demographic changes research on successful aging has become of greater importance (Sibai et al., 2010).

One method to narrow the gap between increasing need for healthcare and limited resources is to help older adults age successfully. However, despite acknowledging the importance of successful aging, a search in the existing literature has shown little or no researches examining successful aging among Egyptian older adults. Moreover, most of the studies about successful aging in the literature aimed at assessing the successful aging concept and measurements. The predictors contributing to successful aging among older adults are not studied well. So,the results of the current study will help identify the predictors of successful ageing among the highly educated elderly, which in turn will aid gerontological nurses in designing and implementing programs that support successful aging. As well, it will enrich the curriculum of gerontological nursing.


  Aim of the study Top


The aim of this study was to assess the predictors of successful aging among Cairo University academic emeritus.

Research question

  1. What are the predictors of successful aging among Cairo University academic emeritus?



  Participants and methods Top


Research design

An exploratory descriptive research design was utilized in the current study.

Setting

The current study was conducted in four health science faculties (out of eight) affiliated to Cairo University, namely Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Nursing, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and − National Institute of Laser-Enhanced Sciences). The academic emeritus in the other four faculties were not interested in participating in the current study. These faculties were Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Oral and Dental Medicine, Faculty of Physical Therapy, National Cancer Institute). Academic emeritus were chosen from health science faculties because they are known for their awareness and compliance with healthy practices and are supposed to be a healthy model.

Participants

A convenience sample of 100 academic emeritus out of 1366 (total number of eight faculties) was selected from the four health sciences sector facilities at Cairo University. Though the original size of the sample was 300 academic emeritus, according to the formula



Sampling technique

The total number of academic emeritus at eight health sciences faculties was 1366. It was found that 60, 32, six, and two of academic emeritus affiliated to the Faculty of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and the National Institute of Laser-Enhanced Sciences, respectively, have participated in the study.

Tool

A structured successful aging predictors questionnaire was used to collect the data to the study based on a scientific relevant review of the available related literature in English, text books, articles, journals, and evidence-based knowledge. It consisted of three parts.
  1. Part I: Personal characteristics of academic emeritus (this part was developed by the investigators) and included seven questions about age, sex, marital status, affiliation/specialty, income, living arrangement, and number of siblings.
  2. Part II: Predictors of successful aging namely (i)-physical and functional health predictors, (ii) mental/cognitive well-being predictors, (ii)psychological well-being predictors, and (iv) social engagement predictors.
    1. Assessment of physical health and functional predictors included two sections, the first section includes the self-rated health status designed to be on a five-point scale (‘excellent=5,’ ‘very good=4,’ ‘good=3,’ ‘fair=2,’ and ‘poor=1’). The second section (was developed by the investigator) and includes health behavior that covered nine questions such as: Do you smoke? How many hours do you regularly sleep at night? Have you been exercising consistently for the past 3 months? How many times a day do you usually eat? How many times a day do you usually eat snacks? How many glasses of water do you consume daily? Do you take the prescribed medication regularly? How many prescribed medications do you take per day? Do you maintain a medical checkup periodically? Questions were designed to be answered by a ‘ yes=2’ or ‘no=1’ score of each item according to the direction of question toward a positive aspect.
      • Functional Health Assessment was done through two standardized scales : the first scale is the Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living (Katz et al., 1963) including activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence, and feeding. The total score ranged from zero (low function or dependent) to 6 (high function or independence). The second scale is Lawton and Brody instrumental activities of daily living scale (Lawton and Brody, 1969). It included items such as the ability to use telephone, shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, mode of transportation, responsibility for own medication, and the ability to handle finances. The total scores ranged from 0 (low function, dependent) to 8 (high function, independent) for women and 0–5 for men to avoid the potential gender bias. Functional health assessment also included questions about the presence of chronic diseases such a high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, cardiac failure, stroke, arthritis, asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and others. The scoring system for this question was designed to be answered by ‘yes=1’ or ‘no=2’ (Xinyi, 2013).
    2. Assessment of mental/cognitive predictor using cognitive failures questionnaire (CFQ) that was adapted from Broadbentet al., 1982. The CFQ is a self-report scale that taps failures in everyday actions, perception and attention, and memory over the last month. It covered nine questions rated on a five-point Likert scale (never=0, very rarely=1, occasionally=2, quite often=3, very often=4). Scores are summed to obtain a total CFQ score varying from 0 to 32, with higher scores indicating more self-reported cognitive failures. Zero to twelve score meant mild cognitive failure, 12–24 meant moderate cognitive failure, while from 24 to 36 meant severe cognitive failure. Assessment of mental health was done by one question about self-reported mental health rated from a scale of 1–5 (1=poor to 5=excellent).
    3. Assessment of psychological predictors: two scales were used; the first scale is standardized Geriatric Depression Scale (Short Form) developed by Sheikh and Yesavage (1986) to measure depression in older adults. The Geriatric Depression Scale consists of 15 ‘yes–no’ items. For scoring, score 0 was given for each item that is ‘none depressive’ and 1 for each ‘depressive’ answer. The total score is 15 and it was divided into: normal=0–5/depressed=5–15. The second scale is personal resilience questionnaire which was developed by investigators and covered 14 items. Each item was scored on a five-point scale from (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree). A total score of 70 and higher scores indicated high resilience.
    4. Assessment of social engagement predictors: It included six questions that assess social support from family and friends such as do your spouse, siblings, close friends and/or relatives make you feel loved and cared?. Answers were rated on a three-point scale which ranged from (1=rarely, 2=sometimes, and 3=frequently). Scores that ranged from 0 to 9 mean low social contact and 9–18 mean high social contact (Xinyi, 2013).
  3. Part III: includes 12 factors that contribute to successful aging from the view point of academic emeritus, such as good genes, physical exercise, adapting well to change, financial stability, physical health, work satisfaction, healthy diet, positive outlook, mental activities, close friends/family, fulfilling marital/significant relationships, and others. Each item answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Then ranking was done by investigators to the most important factors.


Validity and reliability

Content validity for the developed tool was tested by five experts in the fields of community medicine and public health, community health nursing, psychiatric health nursing, and gerontological health nursing to ensure the relevance of content to the study objective and modifications were done accordingly. Cronbach’s α was used for internal consistency of the structured successful aging questionnaire. The reliability was 61.5, 83.2, 62.9, 92.4, and 61.7% for Standardized Lawton and Brody instrumental activities of daily living scale, cognitive failure questionnaire, depression scale, resilience questionnaire, and social network, respectively.

Pilot study

A pilot study was conducted on 10% (10 male and female academic emeritus) of the sample to assess the feasibility of the study, clarity of the tools, and to estimate the average time needed for data collection. Academic emeritus who participated in the pilot study were included in the study sample as no changes were needed.

Procedure

A primary approval was granted from the Research Ethics Committee, Faculty of Nursing Cairo University to conduct the current study (8 May 2016). Then, official permissions were obtained from the deans of each faculty and the chairperson of each department to have a general information about the schedule of academic emeritus in departments. The questionnaire lasted from 40 to 50 min to be filled out. Data collection took 14 months (from May 2016 till June 2017); 6 days/week from 8 am to 2 pm either to distribute or collect the completed questionnaires.

Ethical considerations

Primary approval was granted from the Research Ethics Committee at the Faculty of Nursing, Cairo University to conduct the current study. Official permissions were obtained from the four chosen health science faculties. Written consents were obtained from the academic emeritus who agreed to participate in the study after being informed about the purpose and nature of the study. Voluntary participation and right to withdraw at any time were assured. Anonymity and confidentiality were assured through coding of data. Academic emeritus were assured that this data will not be reused in another research without their permission and data collected will be used for the purpose of this research only. After completion of the data collection, a final approval was granted from the Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Nursing, Cairo University.

Statistical analysis

The collected data were scored, tabulated, and analyzed by a personal computer using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences program, version 20 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA). Data were statistically described in terms of means, SD, or frequencies and percentages when appropriate. Relations between two numerical variables were tested using the independent t-test in comparing two groups and one-way analysis of variance test was used when comparing more than two groups. An independent t-test was used to compare the means between different groups.


  Results Top


Results will be presented in three sections: personal characteristics of academic emeritus, biopsychosocial predictors, and factors that contribute to/influence successful aging as reported by academic emeritus.

Regarding personal characteristics, [Figure 1] illustrates that 17% of academic emeritus were aged between 60 to less than 65 years, while 49% of them were aged between 65 to less than 70 years; moreover, 26% aged were between 70 to less than 75 years whereas 8% were aged between 75 years to less than 80 years with a mean±SD of 67.78±4.90.
Figure 1 Percentage distribution of academic emeritus according to their age group (n=100).

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[Table 1] also indicates that 46% of academic emeritus were women, while 54% were men; 84, 11, 2, and 3%were married, widow, divorced, and single, respectively. Regarding specialty of academic emeritus, 60, 32, 6, and 2%, respectively, were affiliated to the Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Nursing, and National Institute of Laser-Enhanced Sciences. In all, 91% of academic emeritus mentioned that their income was not enough. As regards living arrangement, it was found that 75% of academic emeritus lived with spouse and siblings, while 13% of them lived with relatives, 10% lived alone, and only 2% lived with friends. As regards the number of siblings, 31% of academic emeritus had two children followed by 28% who had three children, 16% had four siblings and more, followed by 15% who had one child while 10% have no children .
Table 1 Frequency distribution of academic emeritus regarding their personal characteristics (sex, marital status, specialty, income, living arrangement, number of siblings) (N=100)

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In relation to self-rated health status, [Figure 2] illustrates that 59, 22, 18, and 1% of academic emeritus rated their health as good, very good, fair, and poor, respectively.
Figure 2 Percentage distribution of academic emeritus regarding their self-rated health status (n=100).

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Regarding independence in instrumental activities of daily activities, [Table 2] shows that 52, 33, 48, 53, and 54% of men, respectively, were independent in using telephone, shopping, transportation, taking own medications, and in handling finances; while 41, 36, and 43% of men, respectively, were dependent in food preparation, housekeeping and laundry. Furthermore, 46% of women were independent in instrumental of daily living activities. Result denotes that 49% men were independent in instrumental activities of daily activities, while 46% women were independent in instrumental activities of daily activities and 5% men were dependent in instrumental activities of daily activities while the dependent option is not selected from the female academic emeritus.
Table 2 Distribution of academic emeritus regarding independence in instrumental activities of daily living (N=100)

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As regards chronic diseases, [Figure 3] illustrates that 55, 31, 27, 24, 16, 15, 12, and 9% of academic emeritus suffered from high blood pressure, arthritis (only 1% rheumatoid arthritis), diabetes, musculoskeletal pain, cataract, varicose vein, vision problem, and heart attack, respectively. However, 4% suffered from osteoporosis, cancer, peptic ulcer, hearing problems, 2% suffered from liver cirrhosis, hypothyroidism, stroke, and dementia. Only 1% suffered from Parkinson’s disease and pulmonary disease.
Figure 3 Percentage distribution of chronic disease among academic emeritus (n=100).

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[Figure 4] shows that the most important factors that influenced successful aging as reported by academic emeritus were mental activities, adapting well to change, close friends/family, fulfilling marital/significant relationships, good genes, work satisfaction, positive outlook, financial stability, physical health, healthy diet, and physical exercise among 18, 16, 15, 12, 11, 6, 6, 5, 5, 4, 2% of academic emeritus, respectively. Regarding mental health rate, [Figure 5] shows that 56, 16, 12, 10, and 6% of academic emeritus rated their mental health as very good, good, fair, excellent, and poor, respectively.
Figure 4 Percentage distribution of the most influential factor contributing to successful aging as reported by academic emeritus (n=100).

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Figure 5 Percentage distribution of academic emeritus on self-reported mental health rate (n=100).

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In relation to psychological resilience, [Table 3] shows that 56% of academic emeritus agreed that their life has meaning while 58% maintained a positive point of view in their thinking. Moreover, 61% of them agreed that they had clear life goals, stopped negative thoughts and they were realistically optimistic about their own capabilities and limits. Interestingly, 60% of them reported that they connected to a higher purpose, while 64% changed negative thoughts to positive ones and they were looking at situations in a different way to find the positives. In addition, 51% of them agreed that their work fits in perfectly with their personal values, whereas 68% of them took action with negative emotion, 66% of them were taking steps to achieve their life goals, 59% of them chose to be positive rather than negative and there were significant people, causes, and faith in their lives; moreover, 62% of them agreed that their behavior were driven by their values. Results denote that 91% of academic emeritus had high resilience, while 9% of them had moderate resilience.
Table 3 Frequency distribution of psychological resilience among academic emeritus (N=100)

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As regards social networks ([Table 4]) shows that 92% of academic emeritus were satisfied with their life while an equal percentage (74%) of them dropped many of their activities and interests and felt happy most of the time. Moreover, 93% of them felt empty life, while 82% of them often got bored; 85% had good spirits most of the time; 57% of them were not afraid that something bad is going to happen. Also, 87% of them felt helpless, 97% of them did not prefer to stay at home and felt their situation was hopeless; 90% of them felt having more problems with memory than others. In addition, 81% of them felt pretty worthless the way they were and wonderful to be alive and 89% of them mentioned that most people were better off than they were. Results showed that 84% of academic emeritus were normal, while 16% of them were depressed.
Table 4 Frequency distribution of depression among academic emeritus (N=100)

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[Table 5] shows that 74% of academic emeritus frequently felt loved and cared for by their spouses, siblings, close friends, or relatives; 60% of them stated that frequently their spouses and close friends were willing to listen when they needed to talk about their worries or problems. Moreover, 43% of them mentioned that spouses, siblings, close friends, and/or relatives sometimes helped with daily tasks like shopping, giving them a ride, or helping them with household tasks; 46% of them were offered advice or information about medical, financial or family problems. Making too many demands on them was mentioned by 49% of them while spouses, siblings, close friends, and/or relatives were sometimes critical of what they did. Result shows that 97% of academic emeritus had high social support while 3% of them had low social support.
Table 5 Frequency distribution of academic emeritus regarding social network (N=100)

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[Table 6] illustrates that there was a significant relationship between sex and resilience (t=−1.76, P=0.02).
Table 6 Relation between gender and total scores of variables (independence in daily activities, instrumental activities of daily living, chronic disease, cognitive failure, depression scale, resilience, social network, 12 factors influencing in successful aging (N=100)

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[Table 7] shows a significant relationship between marital status and total score of depression (F=0.33, P=0.023).
Table 7 Relationship between marital status and means of total scores of independence in daily activities, instrumental activities of daily living, chronic disease, cognitive failure, depression scale, resilience, social network, 12 factors influential in successful aging (N=100)

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  Discussion Top


This chapter will answer the research question: what are the predictors of successful aging among academic emeritus at Cairo University covering four parts. Part I: personal characteristics of academic emeritus; part II: biopsychosocial predictors of successful aging; part III: The most influential items on successful aging as reported by academic emeritus; and part IV: the relationship between study variables.

Section I: Personal characteristics of academic emeritus. The study revealed that approximately half of the academic emeritus were aged 65 to less than 70 years with a mean±SD of 67.78±4.90. This result was supported by Hamid et al. (2012), who conducted a study to assess the sociodemographic predictors among older Malaysians and found that the majority were from 60 to 69 years. The current study also showed that more than half of academic emeritus were men. This finding is similar to the Ibadan cohort study which was conducted by Gureje et al. (2014) to determine the profile and determinants of successful aging in the eight contiguous states in Nigeria and found that more than half of the participants were men.

The current study showed that the majority of academic emeritus were married. This study was similar to Chaves et al. (2009) who conducted a study to assess the demographic, socioeconomic, and medical characteristics in healthy community-dwelling Brazilian individuals aged 60 years and found that the majority of Brazilians were married.

Concerning the educational level, a similar study was conducted by Sloane-Seale and Kops (2010) to examine the participation of older adults in education and how it links to successful aging and its implications for university continuing education in Canada and found that more than half of the respondents had relatively high levels of educational achievement (at least some community college or university). These findings have implications for educational gerontology, life-long learning, and continuing education practice and research.

According to Stern (2012), educational activities may positively influence mental and physical activity, which can result in more positive health and well-being. University continuing education may also enhance spirituality, life planning, positive sense of self and focus on personal renewal and growth, a connection to the broader community, and setting life goals.

The findings of the current study also revealed that around two-thirds of academic emeritus was not satisfied with their monthly income. This goes with a study done by Vameghi et al. (2012) to determine the quality of life (QOL) of retired older adults in Tehran who found that income sufficiency was significantly related to both domains of QOL. From the current research investigators point of view, poor economic status restricts access to healthcare services and satisfaction with self-rated health and QOL.

The current study showed that majority of academic emeritus lived with spouses and siblings, while less than one-fifth lived with relatives and 10% lived alone. This result was supported by Sweed (2016) who prepared a report about Egypt population aging which mentioned that two-thirds of Egyptian elderly (66.8%) lived with sons and daughters, while less than one-fifth (13%) lived with spouses. Less than 10% (9.1%) of the elderly people lived with relatives and the same percentage lived alone. From research investigators’ point of view, it is apparent from these findings that living alone represents a minority. In the Egyptian culture, families remain a key source of physical and emotional support for the elderly.

Regarding the self-rated health status, the current study has shown that around half of academic emeritus rated their health as good. This finding is in agreement with that of Stordal et al. (2012) who found that the majority of the elderly rated their health as good in spite of an increasing frequency of diseases.

Regarding the independence in instrumental activities of daily living, the current findings illustrated that the majority of academic emeritus were independent. This study was supported by Ng et al. (2009) who examined whether a broad multidimensional definition of successful aging has good construct validity and identified a wider range of predictors that are relevant for multifaceted interventions among the Chinese elderly in Singapore and found that being independent in performing instrumental activities of daily life was an important determinant of successful aging.

Regarding chronic diseases, the current study findings have shown that almost all elderly included in the study have one or more chronic diseases. Hypertension, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and musculoskeletal pain were the most common reported chronic diseases. This finding is similar to the findings of Elagamy (2015) who found that hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiac diseases, and rheumatoid diseases were the most common diseases of the elderly. This result is also supported by Soni and Roemer (2011), who prepared a statistical brief in cooperation with the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality to identify top five most common conditions among the elderly aged 65 years and older in the USA. They mentioned that the five most common diseases were heart conditions, cancer, arthritis, hypertension, and trauma. From research investigators’ point of view, these similarities in results could be attributed to the sedentary lifestyle especially among the elderly as well as the incidence of chronic diseases is parallel with being aged as age is known to be a nonmodifiable risk factor for several of such diseases.

Regarding Young et al. (2009) who conducted a study titled ‘Can successful aging and chronic illness coexist in the same individual’ found that successful aging may coexist with diseases and functional limitations if compensatory psychological and/or social mechanisms are used. Furthermore, Parslow et al. (2011) conducted a study about development and testing of a multidimensional model using data from a large sample of older Australians. The study proposed that chronic illness is not a necessary barrier to successful aging.

The current study showed that less than one-third of academic emeritus reported that mental activities was the most important item influential in successful aging. In this respect, Xinyi (2013) conducted a study to explore the multidimensional and global constructs of successful aging among Singaporean, Chinese, Malay, and Indian older adults aged 65 years and above and found that the majority reported physical activities. From the current researcher point of view, it is apparent that academic emeritus have ranked mental activities as the most influential factor on successful aging. Academic background and continuity of mental activities after retirement such as supervising theses and dissertations, participating in research and teaching is greatly valued and appreciated among the academic community.

Regarding psychological resilience, the current study has shown that women were more resilient than men. This result was supported by Netuveli et al. (2008), who conducted a survey in Britain to identify the characteristics of the resilient older adults and predictors of their resilience. The authors found that women were more resilient than men. From investigators’ point of view, this could be attributed to the fact that women often play multiple roles and exhibit more resilience than men to overcome traditional obstacles placed in their way.

It is worth saying that depression is a common mental health problem faced by older adults worldwide. The current study showed that less than one-fifth of academic emeritus suffered from depression. However, this percentage is lower than that reported by Mohamed and Abd-Elhamed (2011) who conducted a study about depression among the elderly attending geriatric clubs in the city of Assiut and found that one quarter of the Egyptian elderly suffered from depression.

As such, another study done by Abdo et al. (2011) conducted a study about the prevalence of depression among the elderly and the evaluation of interventional counseling session in Zagazig District − Egypt, which concluded that less than half suffered from depression. The authors also added that depression among the elderly is an underdiagnosed public health problem. It significantly increases with age, female sex, being unmarried, and those having a history of death event in their relatives and low socioeconomic condition.

Regarding the relationship between marital status and depression, this study showed that academic emeritus who were single showed a high risk for developing depression than married academic emeritus. This finding is consistent with Chou et al. (2006) who conducted a cross-sectional study to examine whether the association between living alone and depression is independent of the health status, social support, and financial strain among Chinese older adults and concluded that living alone is an independent risk factor contributing to depression among the Chinese older women, as well as identifying certain significant factors including social support and health indicators that can affect and explain the link between living alone and depression.

The current study showed that academic emeritus who were divorced showed a high risk for developing depression. This finding is consistent with the study conducted by Wang et al. (2010) to investigate sex differences in prevalence and risk indicators associated with geriatric depression among the community-dwelling elderly people in Shih-Pai, Taipei, Taiwan, which stated that divorced subjects were more liable to develop depression Furthermore, this study showed that academic emeritus who were widow/widower showed a high risk for developing depression. The result is consistent with Chong et al. (2001) who conducted a study to assess the sociodemographic correlates and life events in relation to depression among the community-dwelling elderly in Taiwan, which concluded that high risk of depressive disorders was found among widows with a low educational level.

To sum up, the current study findings indicated that the majority of academic emeritus were married, men, highly educated, with age ranging from 65 to less than 70 years, had a strong social network of friends and families, were resilient, independent in daily and instrumental activities. These factors explain why the majority of academic emeritus were aging successfully. The findings of the present study reflected the importance of providing mental healthcare programs for the elderly in Egypt. Establishment of integrated geriatric healthcare centers must be considered for primary prevention and early detection of geriatric health problems including depression. A greater understanding of the interaction between resilience and depression in older age may identify routes to promote successful aging.


  Conclusion Top


On the basis of the current study, it is important to take a holistic view of what contributes to successful aging. Those who are most likely to age well have good physical and psychological health as well as good social support network. Successful aging is not only the absence of chronic illness, but also the perceived life satisfaction of the elderly person. People with high levels of resilience, low rates of depression, and a good social network are most likely to age successfully.

Recommendation

  1. Replication of the study on a nationwide scale to include academic emeritus in all faculties in Egypt.
  2. Further qualitative research to explore in depth the biopsychosocial predictors of successful aging.
  3. Raising the awareness of older adults regarding successful aging through health education programs.
[34]

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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    Figures

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    Tables

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