Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging and Lower Rate of Overnight Hospitalization in the US Population Over Age 50

Objective: The aging of the baby boomer generation has led to an unprecedented rise in the number of US adults reaching old age, prompting an urgent call for innovative and cost-effective ways to address the increasing health care needs of the aging population. Studying the role of psychosocial factors on health care use could offer insight into how to minimize hospitalizations among older adults. Methods: We use prospective data from a subsample of 4735 participants (mean [standard deviation] age = 69 [8.79] years, 61% women) from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study of US adults over age 50, to examine the association between self-perceptions of aging (SPA) and self-reported overnight hospitalizations after adjusting for a comprehensive list of sociodemographic, health-related, and behavioral factors. Results: Over the 4-year follow-up period, there were a total of 5196 overnight hospitalizations, and 44% of the sample reported being hospitalized overnight at least once. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, each standard deviation increase in positive SPA was associated with a lower rate of overnight hospitalization (incidence rate ratio 0.75; 95% confidence interval = 0.71-0.80, p < .001). After dividing respondents into quartiles of SPA, we observed a dose-response relationship with individuals in higher quartiles showing increasingly lower rates of overnight hospitalization. Conclusions: Positive self-perceptions of aging are associated with a lower rate of hospitalization among older adults over a 4-year period. Future research should examine the factors that contribute to older adults&apos; SPA and explore the pathways through which attitudes toward aging influence the use of health care resources.