Methods: We used a mixed-methodology called concept-mapping to learn what service-connected Latino older adults (N = 101) living in Chicago and its neighboring suburbs consider important for aging well, positively, and successfully. With the help of the Positive Aging of Latinos Study (PALS) steering committee (N = 20), we collected data from nine Latino focus groups (six Spanish speaking, three English speaking; N = 101) to generate an unabridged list of 171 statements that described what positive and successful aging meant to participants. The PALS steering committee, which consisted of community leaders and scholars in the field of Latino aging, reviewed the statements, assisted with the translation and back translation of items in Spanish, eliminated vague and duplicate statements, and approved a final list of 85 statements. Next, Latino older adults thematically sorted (n = 35) and rated (n = 93) the 85 statements (using a 1-5 scale; higher values indicate greater importance). These data were used to produce a final concept map.
Results: The final map consisted of 11 clusters nested within 4 overarching regions of meaning. Region 1 [Self-Sufficiency] contains items clustered as “Stability” and “Independence.” In this region, “Stability” reflected items related to finance, relationships and spirituality. Region 2 [Healthy Behaviors] grouped related items as either “Staying Healthy” or “Avoiding Trouble.” Region 3 [Perspectives on Life] encompasses item clusters that indicate “aging friendly” mindsets: “Tómelo Suave (Take it Easy),” “Outlook on Life/Self-Care,” “Emotional Well-being,” and “Maturing.” Region 4 [Convivir (To coexist)] features indictors of interrelatedness such as “Social & Community Engagement,” “Coping & Adjustment,” and “Family Relationships.” An analysis by national background and nativity showed little variation. However, Spanish language use coincided with items that are categorically “inward focused” (i.e. letting go of anger and jealousy, embracing spirituality, accepting family); English language use coincided with items that were “outward focused” (i.e. engaging in leisure activities, setting goals, starting over).
Conclusion and Implications: Latino older adults seem to operate from a multidimensional sense of stability that promotes positive aging. For them, positive aging includes not just cognitive and physical health but also financial, social, and spiritual health. Thus, it may be useful to integrate seemingly disparate programmatic components (i.e., financial education, meditation/spiritual activities, and family meetings) to better resonate with their multifaceted understanding of aging well.