All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Patricia Drentea

Advisory Committee Members

Olivio J Clay

Verna M Keith

David F Warner

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Successful aging (SA), as outlined by Rowe and Khan, with its objective focus on disease and disability avoidance, maintaining high physical and cognitive function, and sustaining engagement in social and productive activities, was meant to be a benchmark for assessing health and aging. However, given its rigid criteria virtually no one “ages successfully” despite being in otherwise relatively good health. The assumption of unsuccessful aging in populations who experience a higher prevalence of chronic disease, illness, disability, and other health disparities, is implicit in the SA framework outlined by Rowe and Khan and would preclude many Black women from being considered to age well. Building on recent theoretical advancements and critiques of the successful aging framework I investigate how Black women successfully age intersectionally and examine how interpersonal experiences of discrimination affect these successful aging patterns. Using an uncorrected three-step process, I first conduct a latent class analysis (LCA) on data from the Health and Retirement Study to identify successful aging classes among Non-Hispanic Black women between the ages of 50 and 72 (N = 1098) along sociocultural, physical, and psychological indicators. Secondly, I assign class membership to the women of my sample. Thirdly and lastly, I estimate how perceived everyday discrimination and discrimination attributions affect membership into SA classes across social status using multinomial logistic regressions. I identified 5 unique successful aging classes among Black women indicated by differences in self-rated health, chronic conditions, resilience, life satisfaction, psychological well-being, religiosity/spirituality, social engagement, and social support. Everyday interpersonal experiences of discrimination were associated with increased odds of poorer SA among Black women and increased probabilities into poorer SA classes. My findings improve our understanding of successful aging among Black women by incorporating intersectionality and life course considerations into the successful aging framework modeled by Rowe and Khan.



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