Changes in Self-Perceptions of Aging Among Black and White Older Adults: The Role of Volunteering.

TitleChanges in Self-Perceptions of Aging Among Black and White Older Adults: The Role of Volunteering.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsHuo, M, Kim, K, Haghighat, MD
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2023 May 11
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsAged, Aging, Black People, Humans, Racial Groups, Self Concept, United States, White

OBJECTIVES: Given the health consequences of self-perceptions of aging (SPA), understanding how SPA change among Black and White older adults may shed light on racial disparities in late-life health. The current study is the first to assess whether Black older adults exhibit less favorable patterns of change in SPA than White older adults. We also tested whether the salubrious effect of volunteering on SPA would be particularly salient among Black older adults.

METHODS: A pooled sample of adults aged 50+ (N = 10,183; Black: n = 1,672, White: n = 8,511) from the Health and Retirement Study rated positive and negative SPA once every 4 years across 3 waves (2008/2010, 2012/2014, and 2016/2018). We assessed participants' reports on volunteering status in each wave.

RESULTS: Growth curve models revealed that positive SPA decreased over time whereas negative SPA increased. Black older adults reported more positive and less negative SPA at baseline and flatter time-related changes than their White counterparts. We found that volunteering was significantly associated with more positive and less negative SPA across waves, but this effect was only evident in White older adults.

DISCUSSION: Findings revealed vulnerabilities in White older adults as they experience and perceive age-related changes but also identified volunteering as a way to uniquely protect them. More research is needed to refine our understanding of racial disparities in the United States and help tailor interventions intended to maximize benefits to older adults from diverse backgrounds.

Citation Key13086
PubMed ID36634156