Emotional vitality among disabled older women: the Women’s Health and Aging Study.

Objective: To examine correlates of high overall level of emotional functioning (emotional vitality) in disabled older women.

p. Design: A community-based study: The Women’s Health and Aging Study.
POPULATION: A total of 1002 moderately to severely disabled women aged 65 and older living in the community.
MEASUREMENTS: Emotional vitality was defined as having a high sense of personal mastery, being happy, and having low depressive symptomatology and anxiety. Correlations with demographics, health status, and social context were examined.
p. Results: Despite their physical disabilities, 35% of the 1002 disabled older women were emotionally vital. The percent of emotionally vital women declined with increasing severity of disability. After adjustment for disability status, a significantly increased likelihood for being emotionally vital was found for black race (OR=1.69) and for having higher income (OR=1.77), better cognition (OR=2.36), no vision problems (OR=1.61), adequate emotional support (OR=2.54), and many face-to-face contacts (OR=1.64). Having more than one negative life event reduced the likelihood of emotional vitality (OR=0.57).
p. Conclusion: A substantial proportion of even the most disabled older women can be described as emotionally vital. Findings also suggest that emotional vitality is not solely a function of stable, enduring individual characteristics but that health status, disability, and sociodemographic context also have an influence on emotional vitality.