Anxiety in Late Adulthood: Associations With Gender, Education, and Physical and Cognitive Functioning

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Anxiety is common in late adulthood and can complicate adjustment in several areas. This study used data from 2 measurement points of a representative European longitudinal study (Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe) with a large sample size (N = 28,326) and a broad age range (45–90) to examine age effects on cross-sectional mean levels of anxiety as well as longitudinal mean-level changes over 2 years with respect to gender, education, and changes in physical and cognitive functioning. Furthermore, we analyzed generalizability of the findings for different European countries. Latent change models and locally weighted smoothing curves revealed 3 main findings: (1) Mean levels of anxiety were relatively stable over the course of middle adulthood and increased during late adulthood, (2) women and individuals with less education were more anxious than men and individuals with more education, and (3) increases in anxiety in late adulthood were associated with age-associated losses in physical and cognitive functioning.

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