Psychological predictors of mortality in old age

Used Cox regression models to examine associations between 17 indicators of psychological functioning (intellectual abilities, personality, subjective well-being, and social relations) and mortality. The sample consisted of 516 participants (aged 70-103 yrs) in the Berlin Aging Study assessed between 1990 and 1993. By 1996, 50% had died. 11 indicators were identified as mortality risk factors at the zero-order level and 6 when age was controlled. Low perceptual speed and dissatisfaction with aging were uniquely significant after controls for age, SES, health, and the 16 other psychological factors. Low intellectual functioning was a greater risk for individuals aged 70-84 years than for the oldest old (aged 85+ yrs). The effects of psychological risk factors did not diminish over time. Future research should focus on the mechanisms and time frames that underlie the death-relatedness of intellectual functioning and self-evaluation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)