Reciprocal relationships between the will-to-live and successful aging

Amit Shrira, Sara Carmel, Hava Tovel, Victoria H. Raveis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives: The search for concomitants and predictors of successful aging is of theoretical and practical importance. In this study, we assessed the reciprocal relationships between the will-to-live (WTL) and both objective and subjective successful aging (SA) among older adults. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 1,216 randomly selected persons aged 75+ years (T1) and repeated with 1,019 of these participants one year later (T2). At each session, we collected data on WTL, subjective SA, and objective SA (medical conditions, disability, pain symptoms), and demographics. Using SEM techniques, we examined cross-lagged autoregressive relationships between WTL and both objective and subjective SA. Results: Significant reciprocal relationships were found among WTL, objective SA, and subjective SA. Higher WTL at T1 predicted higher objective and subjective SA at T2 (i.e., fewer medical conditions, less disability, less pain symptoms and higher ratings of subjective SA). Higher objective and subjective SA at T1 predicted higher WTL at T2. Comparison of the bidirectional temporal relationship between WTL and SA showed that the effect of WTL on objective SA was as strong as the reverse effect, but the influence of WTL on subjective SA was stronger than the reverse effect. Finally, objective SA at T1 predicted subjective SA at T2, but the reverse effect was not significant. Conclusion: WTL is an important precursor for both objective and subjective SA. It may also be maintained and further strengthened by successful aging. Policy makers and practitioners should consider WTL in their efforts to help older adults enhance and preserve SA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1350-1357
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Will-to-live
  • cross-lagged model
  • successful aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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