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The Closing Chapters of Long Lives: Results from the 10-Year Swilsoo Study on the Oldest Old
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Editors: Edith Guilley and Christian J. Lalive d'Epinay (Center for Interdisciplinary Gerontology, Univ. of Geneva, site de Battele, La Villa, Switzerland)
Book Description:
One of the most striking demographic changes over the last century in Western countries has been the rapid growth, both absolute and relative, of the oldest-old population, to such an extent that living beyond the age of 80 years constitutes a new stage of life.

But what is life like after 80? Rather than scrutinizing the pathologies of very old age, this book enquires into the normal aging of the oldest old, their health trajectories, their socio-demographic inequalities; it analyzes their daily life, including their social relationships, social support, and activities, and observes how the oldest old adapt to the multiple stresses and challenges of very old age. The book reports major results obtained from Swilsoo, a long-term longitudinal study based on two cohorts of octogenarians. The two cohorts were assessed on an approximately yearly basis, the first for 9 waves from 1994 to 2004, with 340 participants at inception, and the second for 5 waves from 19v9 to 2004, initially with 377 participants.

This book demonstrates that many common stereotypes concerning the oldest old are false. For examples, their main shared characteristic is not sickness, but frailty, which affects them in different ways. A long life does not necessarily culminate in dependence. Dependence is a risk--especially among persons of lower socio-economic status--but not an ineluctable outcome. It also helps to bring out the importance of social and psychological resources in the lives of the oldest old. Although multiple stresses such as negative health-related changes or self-reported bereavements of a loved one often occur in the life of the elderly and affect their health and well-being, the very old can take advantage of various resources or adjustment mechanisms to help preserve their well-being and robustness. The book shows for instance that the preservation by the elderly of a positive and active role within the family is a boon to their health and that the continuation of leisure activities or the effective use of psychological resources counters the negative effects of frailty on well-being.

Table of Contents:
Preface
Introduction: The Closing Chapters of Long Lives-A Presentation, pp. 1-7

Chapter 1. The Swiss Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study on the Oldest Old: design and population, pp. 9-26
(Christian J. Lalive d'Epinay, Edith Guilley, Luc A. Guillet, and Dario Spini)

Part 1: Architecture of very old age: Patterns of health trajectories
Chapter 2. Individual health transitions between robustness, ADL-independent frailty and ADL-dependence in late life, pp. 29-36
(Edith Guilley, Paolo Ghisletta, Franca Armi, André Berchtold, and
Christian J. Lalive d’Epinay)

Chapter 3. Is the last stage of life one of long-term ADL-dependence?, pp. 37-44
(Edith Guilley and Christian J. Lalive d’Epinay)

Part 2: Events and changes
Chapter 4. Self-reported changes: Relation with health, activity and well-being, pp. 47-63
(Christian J. Lalive d’Epinay, Stefano Cavalli, and Luc A. Guillet)

Chapter 5. The death of a close relative or friend: Impact on health and relationship, pp. 65-82
(Stefano Cavalli, Luc A. Guillet, and Christian J. Lalive d’Epinay)

Part 3: Social networks and relationships of the elders
Chapter 6. Giving and receiving instrumental support within the family network, pp. 86-92
(Franca Armi, Edith Guilley, and Christian J. Lalive d’Epinay)

Chapter 7. Retaining or recovering robustness in very old age. What is the role of social relationship?, pp. 93-102
(Franca Armi and Edith Guilley)

Chapter 8. The interface between formal and informal support: Does formal support substitute informal one?, pp. 103-112
(Franca Armi, Edith Guilley, and Christian J. Lalive d'Epinay)

Part 4: Preserving well-being
Chapter 9. Remaining active: A boost for well-being, pp. 115-128
(Jean-François Bickel and Myriam Girardin)

Chapter 10. The paradox of well-being in later life: Effectiveness of downward social comparisons during the frailty process, pp. 129-142
(Myriam Girardin, Dario Spini, and Valérie-Anne Ryser)

About the Authors
Index

   Binding: Hardcover
   Pub. Date: 2008
   ISBN: 978-1-60456-971-1
   Status: AV
  
Status Code Description
AN Announcing
FM Formatting
PP Page Proofs
FP Final Production
EP Editorial Production
PR At Prepress
AP At Press
AV Available
  
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The Closing Chapters of Long Lives: Results from the 10-Year Swilsoo Study on the Oldest Old