Social Engagement, Limitations, and Mortality in Late Life
This study uses social integration theory within a life course framework to examine the relationships among social engagement, physical limitations, cognitive limitations, and mortality. Data for this study come from the Americans' Changing Lives survey, a nationally representative panel study conducted in 1986, 1989, 1994, and 2002, with mortality information spanning from 1986 to 2005. First, structural equation modeling is used in cross-lagged panel models to examine gender differences in these relationships. Findings suggest that social engagement may have protective effects on health limitations for women but that physical and cognitive limitations can present barriers for social engagement among men. Second, growth mixture models were used to examine patterns of social engagement over time. This study then examined how these patterns of social engagement related to physical and cognitive limitations (using latent growth curve models) and mortality (using Cox proportional hazards models). Findings suggest the importance of maintaining high levels of social engagement and increasing social engagement over time for better physical and cognitive health and lower risk of mortality for older adults.
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