Identity Processes Among Older Norwegians Living in Urban and Rural Areas

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Guided by the Identity Process Theory, we examined whether 424 Norwegians 60+ years of age would attribute their physical and mental functioning to their health (identity assimilation), to aging itself (identity accommodation), or to both (identity balance). We were also interested in the effect of these attribution styles upon depressive symptoms. Secondary data from the 2004 World Health Organization Quality of Life OLD Group Norwegian Field Study were analyzed using General Linear Model Regression and subsequent Path Analyses. Attributing physical functioning to health as opposed to aging had a negligible effect on depressive symptoms among both study groups. Attributing mental functioning to aging worsened depressive symptoms among rural participants. Attributing mental functioning to health was associated with more positive perceptions of psychosocial loss among urban participants. Positivity toward psychosocial loss lessened depressive symptoms and factors affecting those perceptions differed among rural versus urban participants. Adapting to functional changes in older age is a complex process affecting depressive symptoms.

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