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Interviews with Yupik elders about aging

Research Achievements

Interviews with Yupik elders about aging

Trainee Jordan Lewis documented factors contributing to successful aging through interviews of Yupik elders in southwestern Alaska. Elders felt that a key feature of successful aging is the maintenance of an optimistic and positive attitude about life in each of four domains: emotion, spirituality, community engagement, and physical health. Another important feature was a locally embedded sense of personal responsibility and the decision to lead a clean and healthy life. Most Elders stated that Elder status is not determined by age but instead is recognized by a community when an individual has demonstrated wisdom because of the experiences he or she has gained throughout life. This indigenous perspective differs strikingly from definitions in the literature, which are more inward focused on issues such as control over one's life, good health status, and high levels of well-being. Jordan is the first Alaska Native man to receive a PhD from the University of Alaska.