Spatial temporal experiences and self-assessed health in the older adult




Kelley, Frances

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The relationships between spatial, or non-linear, temporal experiences and self-assessed health in the older adult were examined. Newman's (1986) model of health, in which time is a major concept, and Cottle's (1967) spatial conceptualization of time provided direction for the study. Temporal variables included dominance and relatedness as described in the Circles Test.

The sample consisted of 42 females and 4 males who resided in retirement centers. The mean age of the subjects was 80.5 years. Self-assessed health scores ranged from 1-10, with a sample mean of 6.89 (SD = 2.3). Drawings, in the shape of circles to represent the three time zones, were analyzed in terms of dominance (size) and relatedness (degree to which circles touch or overlap). None of the subjects drew the continuous configuration representing a linear relationship. The past was viewed as the dominant time zone by 72% of the subjects. The mean self-assessed health score for this group was 6.5 (SD = 2.44). Subjects (15%) drawing the future as the dominant zone had a mean self-assessed health score of 8.7 (SD = 1.25). Temporal dominance categories, in order of dominant to least dominant zone, were examined. Of the total drawings, 59% were of the past > present > future configuration.

The correlation between temporal relatedness and self-assessed health scores was not significant (r =.016, p =.46). No significant differences were observed in self-assessed health scores when subjects were grouped by time zone dominance (F = 2.72, p =.08) and time zone dominance categories (F = 1.42, p =.23). Interactions were not significant when the variables of age and gender were introduced. A t-test (t = -2.57, df = 44) demonstrated that the difference between the groups in terms of assistive device use was statistically significant (p =.01). Subjects who reported "no assistive device use" had significantly higher self-assessed health scores.

The lack of a significant relationship between the temporal variables of dominance and relatedness and self-assessed health underscore the difficulties associated with the conceptualization of the time variable. Anecdotal material provided by the subjects revealed differences in patterns of expression about the different time zones.



Older adult, Temporal relatedness, Spatial temporal, Temporal dominance, Circles Test