Community group membership and multidimensional subjective well-being in older age

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Abstract

Background

It has been highlighted as a public health priority to identify ways of supporting well-being in older age to allow people to lead healthy and integrated lifestyles. This study explored whether membership in eight different sorts of community groups was associated with enhanced experienced, evaluative and eudemonic well-being among older adults.

Methods

We analysed data from 2548 adults aged 55+ drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. We used multivariate logistic and linear regression models to compare change in well-being between baseline and follow-up 10 years later in relation to membership of different community groups while controlling for potential confounding variables.

Results

Membership in two types of community groups was associated with enhanced well-being: attending education, arts or music classes was longitudinally associated with lower negative affect (OR 0.73, CI 0.57 to 0.92) and life satisfaction (β 0.55, CI 0.02 to 1.08) while church or religious group membership was longitudinally associated with lower negative affect (OR 0.79, CI 0.65 to 0.98) and higher positive affect (OR 1.54, CI 1.25 to 1.90). There was no evidence of reverse causality through cross-lagged analyses. However, just 17.4% and 24.6% of older adults were found to engage in these two types of community groups, respectively, and several demographic factors were identified as barriers to participation.

Conclusions

Overall, this study suggests that education, arts or music classes and church or religious groups may support well-being in older age. Programmes to encourage engagement could be designed for older adults who may not normally access these community resources.

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