Analysis of perceptions of successful aging among older Korean immigrants and the role of resilience and acculturation as predictors
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Rowe and Kahn's longitudinal study of successful aging developed the Model of Successful Aging, which has been considered one of the most salient models among the studies on aging. However, there have been controversies on the model due to the restricted subjectivity on the perceptions toward successful aging. Moreover, the limited sample population for the study participants has been a critical issue. Therefore, further study is needed to investigate the subjective perceptions on successful aging and to focus on ethnic minority populations who may be more vulnerable due to their lower socioeconomic status and cultural differences. The purpose of this study is two-fold: 1) to explore what factors are important for older Korean immigrants to become successful agers, and 2) to examine the relationships among the level of successful aging, the level of resilience, and the level of acculturation among older Koreans in the USA. Quantitative data were collected through a survey to examine older Koreans’ level of successful aging, resilience, and acculturation via pre-existing scales. Qualitative data were also collected through short interviews to explore their perceptions of successful aging. All of the participants of the study were enrolled in one of two Adult Day Health Care Centers in Los Angeles, CA. Positive and statistically significant relationships were found between the levels of successful aging and resilience. In addition, a positive and significant relationship was found between the levels of successful aging and acculturation. Older Koreans expressed their own perceptions about successful aging, including the following: 1) maintaining a good physical and cognitive health status, 2) positive attitude toward the current life, 3) spiritual activity and religious life. The major contribution of the study is a newly developed concept of successful aging including the mediating role of resilience by older Koreans' perceptions to successful aging. Implications are directed to social work researchers and practitioners to help educate older adults in the community on the social and behavioral importance of the positive aspects of aging such as successful aging and healthy aging to increase a chance of longevity.