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Health among the oldest-old in China: Which living arrangements make a difference?

Listed author(s):
  • Li, Lydia W.
  • Zhang, Jiaan
  • Liang, Jersey
Registered author(s):

    This study aims to (1) examine the association of living arrangements and health among oldest-old Chinese, and (2) investigate gender differences in the association of living arrangements and health. Data were from the first two waves of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey, which included 9093 Chinese averaging 92 years old. Living arrangements had six mutually exclusive categories: living alone, with spouse, with children, with spouse and children, with others and in institutions. Using multinomial logistic regression, we found that baseline living arrangements are significantly associated with mortality, activities of daily living (ADL) disability, and self-rated health at Wave 2, controlling for baseline health, sociodemographic characteristics and availability of children. Further, the linkages between living arrangements and mortality vary by gender. Among the different living arrangements, having a spouse in the household (either with a spouse only or with both a spouse and children) provides the best health protection. Living alone and living with children are associated with both health advantages and disadvantages. Institutional living lowers mortality risk for men but not women. Living with others provides the least health benefits. Our study has extended the research on living arrangements and health to a unique population--the oldest-old in China--and clarified the health advantages and disadvantages of different living arrangements. Future research should examine the mechanisms linking living arrangements and health, and the experience of institutional living for men and women in China.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277-9536(08)00534-0
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (January)
    Pages: 220-227

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:2:p:220-227
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    1. Gu, Danan & Dupre, Matthew E. & Liu, Guangya, 2007. "Characteristics of the institutionalized and community-residing oldest-old in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 871-883, February.
    2. Boukje Maria van Gelder & Marja Tijhuis & Sandra Kalmijn & Simona Giampaoli & Aulikki Nissinen & Daan Kromhout, 2006. "Marital Status and Living Situation During a 5-Year Period Are Associated With a Subsequent 10-Year Cognitive Decline in Older Men: The FINE Study," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(4), pages 213-219.
    3. Zhenmei Zhang, 2006. "Gender Differentials in Cognitive Impairment and Decline of the Oldest Old in China," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(2), pages 107-115.
    4. Li, Lydia & Liang, Jersey & Toler, Amanda & Gu, Shengzu, 2005. "Widowhood and depressive symptoms among older Chinese: Do gender and source of support make a difference?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 637-647, February.
    5. Lund, Rikke & Due, Pernille & Modvig, Jens & Holstein, Bjørn Evald & Damsgaard, Mogens Trab & Andersen, Per Kragh, 2002. "Cohabitation and marital status as predictors of mortality--an eight year follow-up study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 673-679, August.
    6. A. Walter-Ginzburg & T. Blumstein & A. Chetrit & B. Modan, 2002. "Social Factors and Mortality in the Old-Old in Israel," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 57(5), pages 308-318.
    7. Zeng Yi & James W. Vaupel & Xiao Zhenyu & Zhang Chunyuan & Liu Yuzhi, 2002. "Sociodemographic and Health Profiles of the Oldest Old In China," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(2), pages 251-273.
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