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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 166-173

The predictive role of social intelligence in successful aging in the elderly


1 Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Qazvin University of Medical Sciences, Qazvin, Iran
2 Student Research Committee, Qazvin University of Medical Sciences, Qazvin, Iran

Date of Submission01-Feb-2020
Date of Decision05-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance16-Aug-2020
Date of Web Publication8-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
Akram Zakani
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Qazvin University of Medical Sciences, Qazvin
Iran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/SHB.SHB_44_20

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  Abstract 


Introduction: Successful aging is a concept that seemingly provides a good approach to increase an individual's success in old age. The results of studies have shown that various factors can predict a successful aging. Social intelligence is one of the parameters that can predict a person's success in life. Methods: This study is a cross-sectional descriptive study. The sample consisted of 288 elderly people in the city of Karaj who were selected at first by cluster sampling method and then by convenience sampling method. In order to evaluate successful aging (based on Rowe and Kahn's theory), the following questionnaires were used in addition to emphasizing the absence of chronic disease: World Health Organization's mental well-being questionnaire, Katz physical functioning questionnaire, and Duke social support and interaction questionnaire. To investigate the social intelligence, the Tromso social intelligence questionnaire was used. The data were analyzed by a descriptive test and also logistic regression in SPSS software version 22. Results: The mean age of the elderly was 65.24 ± 5.10. The successful aging rate was 7.3%. In logistic regression analysis, social intelligence significantly predicted successful aging. Moreover, variables of body mass index, previous job, level of religious beliefs, marital status, education level, the person they were living with and the use of assistive devices had a significant correlation with successful aging. Conclusion: Due to the high predictive power of social intelligence in successful aging and since this variable can be taught and learned, by emphasizing this variable and other predictor variables, this period can be enriched for the elderly along with a better quality of life.

Keywords: Predictor, social intelligence, successful aging


How to cite this article:
Soleimani MA, Mohammadi F, Mafi M, Zakani A. The predictive role of social intelligence in successful aging in the elderly. Soc Health Behav 2020;3:166-73

How to cite this URL:
Soleimani MA, Mohammadi F, Mafi M, Zakani A. The predictive role of social intelligence in successful aging in the elderly. Soc Health Behav [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 18];3:166-73. Available from: http://www.shbonweb.com/text.asp?2020/3/4/166/294534




  Introduction Top


Old age is a sensitive and decisive stage of human growth and contrary to public perception, it is not the end of a person's life but rather it is a natural process of aging and passing through life.[1] This is a period of life that most probably many people will experience.[2] According to the definition of the World Health Organization, a person above 60-year-old is considered old, although some other references consider the age of 65 as the aging threshold.[3] In developing countries (including Iran) the rate of aging is faster than advanced countries. It is estimated that in 2050, the share of this population group in our country will reach 19.7% of the total population.[4] Along with trying to increase the years of lifetime, the quality, meaningfulness and well-being in one's life should also be considered.[5]

Given the importance of old age period, different theories and perspectives have been expressed by various thinkers in various fields, it seems that the idea of successful aging is a good way to reduce the problems of old age period and increase the elderly's success.[1] The term successful aging was first proposed by Havighurst in 1961.[6] Initially, the term seemed inconsistent with the nature of old age because old age usually evokes the notion of loss, decline, and eventual death, while success mostly represents progress, victory, or positive balance.[7] Some researchers have defined successful aging only by its physical aspect, and some by the physical and cognitive aspects, while the others have defined the concept of successful aging not as a physical state but as a psychological one.[8] Despite all of these differences, the most famous and well-known definition and the model of successful aging is provided by Rowe and Kahn in 1987 considering three dimensions of 1-Optimal physical and cognitive functioning, 2-Absence of disease and disability, 3-Involvement and participation in life.[9]

Evidence shows that in addition to immutable factors such as having chronic disease,[10] age, gender, genetics,[11] variable factors such as the level of physical activity, social interactions and outlook on life, religious beliefs[11] education, body mass index, income, smoking,[10] marriage, lifestyle, and social participation[12] will affect the health of the elderly. Also, some psychological characteristics related to intelligence, personality and motivation will affect the success in old age. It seems that social intelligence can be one of the best predictors of success in life.[13]

Social intelligence is a set of skills that affect an individual's ability to succeed and cope with environmental stresses. In other words, it causes optimal communication with others, self-control, adaptation and motivation for life, and is a way to grow and progress in matters related to life and social relations.[14] This type of intelligence was first introduced by Thorndike in 1920. According to him, social intelligence is closely related to concepts such as social competence and skill.[15] Goleman defines social intelligence as the ability to perceive and control emotions and feelings in order to help with intellectual, decision-making and communication activities; he considers social intelligence to be progressive and believes that it can be expanded through education.[13] Social intelligence is one of the ways to adapt to environmental changes and situations and as an interesting phenomenon, not only has some theoretical psychological aspects, but in practice, appropriate answers can be found for many hidden problems in life by its promotion.[16] Naderi and Roshani in their study found out that social intelligence is not related to reducing the death anxiety in the elderly.[17] Motamedi and Ejei concluded in their study that the intelligent functioning of the elderly does not necessarily decrease after the age of 60. They argue that the intelligent functioning of successful old people is better than other old individuals.[18]

The successful aging concept is an approach to better health and success of the elderly, which is influenced by individual, social, economic and cultural factors. Due to the lack of studies related to social intelligence and considering that no study has been conducted to explain the predictive role of social intelligence in successful aging, this study was designed to fill this gap.


  Methods Top


Study design and participants

This study was a cross-sectional study that was conducted from October to March 2018 on 288 elderly men and women over 60 who were living in the city of Karaj.

Sample size estimation

The sample size estimation was according to the study of Goli et al., which was conducted to measure the relationship between successful aging and spiritual health of the elderly in the city of Tehran.[19] Correlation between successful aging and spiritual health was r = −0.2, and considering the type I error α = 0.05 (confidence level 0.95) and type II error β = 0.1 (power of the test 0.90), the estimation of the sample size was calculated at 288 people, considering 10% sample loss.

The study inclusion criteria were the ability to communicate verbally, willingness to participate in the study and absence of a severe cognitive and physical illness. The questionnaires were completed by the researcher through face-to-face interviews after obtaining the consent of the elderly. Sampling of this study was done in two stages, that is, the city of Karaj was divided into clusters consisting of north, south, east, west and center and from these clusters a number of public places such as parks, mosques, retirement centers, etc., were randomly selected and the elderly were sampled by convenience sampling method.

Measures

Data collection tools included the demographic information questionnaire, the successful aging questionnaire and the social intelligence questionnaire. The demographic information questionnaire included age, gender, height and weight to calculate the body mass index (weight (Kg) divided by height squared [m2][20]), marital status, previous and current job, economic status, source of income, level of education, the person they were living with, type of residence, chronic illness, smoking, use of assistive devices, and the elderly's perception of social support, social participation level, religious beliefs level, and personal success level. To measure successful aging according to Rowe and Kohn's theory,[9] these tools were used:

  1. One-dimensional well-being index of the World Health Organization (to examine mental health)
  2. Katz physical functioning (to examine physical function)
  3. Duke social interaction (to examine social interaction).


The criteria for successful aging classification were a score of 52 or higher in the World Health Organization well-being tool (maximum score is 100), a score of 3 or higher in the Katz physical performance tool, and a score of 21 or higher in the Duke social support tool[18] and no chronic illness (i.e., cancer, heart disease, diabetes, brain stroke, hypertension, and chronic lung disease).[21]

  1. The one-dimensional well-being index of the World Health Organization was first presented at the World Health Organization's February 1998 meeting in Stockholm as a project to measure well-being in primary care of patients. In the one-dimensional well-being index of the World Health Organization, there are 5 questions based on a 6-point Likert Scale with answers ranging from Never to Always. Scores are graded from zero (lower well-being) to 25 (higher well-being).[22] The validated One-dimensional well-being index of the World Health Organization is available in Iran
  2. The Katz physical functioning tool was developed by Katz et al. to develop a tool for measuring the daily life activities of the elderly.[23] This scale includes the performance of bathing, dressing, going to the toilet, moving, urinary and fecal control and eating, which are answered as independent (score 1) and dependent (score 0). A maximum score of 6 indicates independence and a score of 4 indicates moderate functional impairment and a score of 2 or less indicates severe functional impairment.[23] In a study, Taheri Tanjani et al. reported Cronbach's alpha of this tool to be more than 0.75[24]
  3. Duke social support questionnaire was developed in 1984 by Duke.[25] This questionnaire has 11 questions, question 1 has a 3-point scale of No One to More Than Two Persons, questions 2–4 have a 7-point scale of Never to 7 Times and More, questions 5–10 have a 5-point scale of Never, Often, Rarely, Sometimes, and Always, and question 11 has a 5-point scale of Completely Dissatisfied to Completely Satisfied.[25] The validity and reliability of this questionnaire were investigated by Parkerson et al. and the Cronbach's alpha coefficient was found to be 0.73 for this questionnaire.[26] The reliability coefficient of this questionnaire in Iran using Cronbach's alpha was calculated by Hosseini Badanjani (2008) as 0.78.[27]


The Tromso social intelligence questionnaire was used to assess social intelligence. This questionnaire was provided by Silvera et al.[28] It has 21 questions and its purpose is to measure people's social intelligence. Its subscales include Social Information Processing Subscale for questions 1–7, Social Awareness (SA) Subscale for questions 8–15, and Social Skills (SS) Subscale for questions 16–21. Its response range is a 7-point Likert Scale, ranging from StronglyAgree (a score of 7) to Strongly Disagree (a score of 1). But this scoring method is reversed for questions 2, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 20, 21. Thus, the minimum total score of the items in this tool is 21 and the maximum score is 147. In this questionnaire, a higher score indicates higher social intelligence and vice versa. Silvera et al. calculated the reliability coefficient of this questionnaire using Cronbach's alpha method. They reported the questionnaire's reliability for social information, social awareness and SS subscales as 0.81, 0.79, and 0.86, respectively.[28] In Iran, Rezaei in his study, obtained Cronbach's alpha for the whole scale as 0.75 and the social information, social awareness and SS subscales as 0.73, 0.66, and 0.64, respectively. Cronbach's alpha coefficients and retest showed that the reliability of each factor is at an acceptable level.[29]

Ethical considerations

In order to comply with ethical standards, after obtaining permission from the ethics committee of Qazvin University of Medical Sciences with the code IR. QUMS. REC.1397.228 and after explaining the objectives and methodology of the study and a promise to keep the information confidential and obtaining informed written consent, the questionnaires completed without indicating names by the researcher based on a code number.

Statistical analysis

Data analysis was performed by (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 22.0. IBM Corp., Armonk, New York, USA) using descriptive statistics such as mean and standard deviation (for quantitative variables) and frequency and percentage (for qualitative variables). Logistic regression test was used to predict successful aging.


  Results Top


The mean and standard deviation of age and body mass index of the studied elderly were 65.24 ± 5.10 years and 25.51 ± 2.75 kg/m2, respectively. 141 persons (49%) were female. Previous jobs were mostly self-employed (137 persons (49.3%)) and they had university education level (125 persons (43.4%)). 207 persons (71.9%) lived with their spouses and/or children. Also, 221 persons (76.7%) used at least two assistive devices. The description of other variables is given in [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic information of the elderly participating in the study in the city of Karaj in 2018 broken down by obtaining a successful aging score

Click here to view


According to Rowe and Kohn criterion, 21 participants were classified in the successful elderly group and the rest in the unsuccessful elderly group. Based on this, the successful aging rate was 7.3% with a confidence interval (CI) of (95% CI = 4.3–10.3). According to the self-report criterion, 24 elderly people (8.3%) considered themselves successful seniors. The mean and standard deviation of the social intelligence score of these individuals was 109.90 ± 15.09. [Table 1] shows the demographic information of the participants of this study broken down by obtaining a successful aging score.

Successful aging predictors

In univariate logistic models, among the studied variables, variables of body mass index, marital status, previous job, education, the person they were living with, use of assistive devices, level of religious beliefs and social intelligence affected the odds of successful aging [Table 2]. The odds ratio (OR) of successful aging in single and divorced elderly was 3.06 times higher than married elderly. The elderly who were previously self-employed were 3.86 times more likely to have successful aging than those who were previously employed. The OR of a successful aging in the elderly living with a spouse were 2.77 times more than the elderly living alone. Older people with a university education were 3.53 times more likely to have successful aging than older people with a non-university degree. The OR of successful aging in the elderly who used a single assistive device was 3.34 times higher than the elderly who used several assistive devices. Social intelligence had a significant positive relationship, and body mass index had a significant inverse relationship, with successful aging. Using univariate logistic regression, the OR of social intelligence for successful aging was calculated. According to the results of this regression analysis, with an increase in the social intelligence scores of the elderly, the odds of successful aging is increased 1.05 times (OR = 1.05). A 95% CI (1.01–1.11) was also reported. All OR s with 95% CI are reported in [Table 2].
Table 2: Predictive variables of successful aging of the elderly participating in the study the city of Karaj in 2018 based on univariate logistic regression model

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The multiple logistic regression model was used to investigate the simultaneous effect of significance variables on successful aging. In this model too, the variables of body mass index, use of assistive devices, level of religious beliefs and social intelligence affected the odds of successful aging. The results are reported in [Table 3].
Table 3: Predictive variables of successful aging of the elderly participating in the study in the city of Karaj in 2018 based on multiple logistic regression model

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According to the overall fit of the model, the prediction value of the model is reported to be between 14% and 35%, which is an appropriate and significant value. Also, the results of goodness-of-fit test are appropriate according to the value of Chi-square statistic and significance value of (χ2 = 6.806, P = 0.558) and the null hypothesis of the study, i.e., the appropriateness of the fitted model according to the obtained P value, is confirmed.


  Discussion Top


The aim of this study was to determine the successful aging rate in the elderly and investigate the predictive role of social intelligence and other factors in successful aging. According to Rowe and Kahn's theory, the successful aging rate in this study was 7.3%. In a study according to the same theory, McLaughlin obtained this rate as 11.9,[30] Strawbridge et al. also reported a slightly higher level of this rate as 18.8.[8] Considering the similarity of tools, the difference in the rate of successful aging can be due to the diversity in the evaluation of each of the three main components of Rowe and Kahn's tool and different cultural, social and economic conditions of the elderly. Previous studies on successful aging have reported successful aging rates ranging from 0.4% to 0.95%,[21] which can be justifiable given that the tools used to assess successful aging can be multidimensional and different.

In our study, there was no difference between the mean age of successful and unsuccessful aging. Unlike the study by Hamid TA, who reported a significant correlation between age and successful aging, i.e., the rate of successful aging decreases with increasing age;[21] in this study there was no correlation between age and successful aging, which could be due to the lack of age distribution of the elderly participants.

In the study by Goli et al., the mean score of successful aging was higher in women than men, which was attributed to the active presence of Iranian women at home and in social and cultural spheres.[19] The Strawbridge study also reported this rate higher in women[8] because house cleaning was included as a productive activity in the study, but in our study, there was no significant difference between the mean scores of successful aging between men and women (similar to McLaughlin's study), which could be due to the different cultural and social conditions or other background characteristics of the participants.

One of the significant aspects of this study was obtaining higher scores of successful aging by the elderly who lived with their spouses and families. The findings of this study were consistent with the results of the study by Abolhassani et al. Specifically, higher life satisfaction scores related to the elderly who lived with their families and apparently were not alone. They believed that isolation and loneliness could affect the lifestyle, interactions, and mental and physical health of the elderly, and this could lead to lower levels of life satisfaction in individuals.[31] Sanchez also pointed out that living with the family makes the elderly happier and their daily interactions with the family lead to higher psychological well-being.[11]

One of the predictors of successful aging in this study was the level of education, so that people with higher levels of education were more successful. Hamid TA reached similar conclusions in his study of the elderly in Malaysia[21] and concluded that the higher level of education provides better job opportunities and higher medical facilities for the elderly.

The results of this study showed that the use of more assistive devices reduces the rate of successful aging. The results of this study were somewhat similar to the result of Freedman's study. In his study, when the concept of successful aging was changed to independence of the elderly, nearly a quarter of the elderly asked permission to perform daily activities without assistive devices.[32] The use of assistive devices is usually necessary at older age, which can indicate the weakness and disability of the elderly. This issue is influential on the understanding of the elderly of themselves, the degree of dependence on others and ultimately their success.

In this study, social intelligence was a predictor of successful aging. Successful seniors reported higher social intelligence which indirectly matched the results of Motamedi's research who found intelligent activities of successful seniors was higher than unsuccessful seniors.[18] Contrary to most studies that have shown a positive relationship between the two variables, Shaie states that it is not likely that many people with higher academic intelligence will be successful in managing their lives.[33]

Limitations

As we know, the incidence of diseases increases with age. A criterion of successful aging according to Rowe and Kahn is the absence of disease. Considering that the successful aging rate is reported to be very low by inclusion of this criterion, in this study, we only included the absence of six chronic diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, brain stroke, hypertension and chronic lung disease. The convenience sampling method restricts the generalization of the results in the present study. Since answering to the questions was based on self-report, seniors may avoid answering questions correctly for a number of reasons, and answering questions by some seniors was beyond their power and patience.


  Conclusion Top


Due to the use of the modified definition of successful aging by Rowe and Kahn, still a small number of elderly people were included in the successful elderly group. This shows the importance of paying attention to chronic diseases and functional problems of the elderly that can affect their quality of life and ultimately, their success. Due to the high predictive power of social intelligence, and since social intelligence includes various skills that can be learned and developed, it is possible to take steps to achieve success in the future by promoting this type of intelligence at a younger age. Furthermore, according to the emergence of a significant relationship between educations with successful aging, one may increase the rate of successful aging by boosting these variables in the elderly. Reduced body mass index and avoiding loneliness can also be effective factors.

Acknowledgments

This research is part of the of a MSc. degree thesis in Nursing, subfield of Geriatrics, with the design number 14003478, in which the authors express their gratitude to the Research Vice Chancellor at Qazvin University of Medical Sciences. We would also like to thank all the elderly people who participated in this study; this research would not have been possible without their consent and cooperation.

Financial support and sponsorship

This study was supported by Qazvin University of Medical Sciences.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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