Death, Fear, and Readiness as Factors Associated With Successful Aging: Perspectives From the Lay Definitions of Older Patients

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No consensus exists regarding the definition of successful aging. The fear of and readiness for death, based on the lay definitions of elderly patients, may be important factors for successful aging. The aim of this study was to confirm that fear of death and readiness for death are factors related to successful aging in elderly patients.

In June 2013, a cross-sectional anonymous questionnaire was administered to elderly patients (N = 136) recruited from senior welfare centers and outpatient clinics in 4 cities in Korea. We asked questions about successful aging; spiritual well-being; the concept of a good death; the capability of maintaining daily life activities, including physical and mental functions; depression; self-esteem; stress; family support; socioeconomic status; fear of death; and readiness for death.

The mean score for successful aging was 3.72 ± 0.5. Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that participants who perceived that their family was more supportive had increased self-esteem and a reduced fear of death and were more likely to perceive their aging as successful. In conclusion, familial support, self-esteem, and fear of death are important factors related to successful aging. Therefore, improving self-esteem, dealing with the fear of death, and increasing family involvement will help elderly patients age successfully.

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