Data » What's Available » AHEAD 1993 Core » Experimental Modules

Module 1: Resilience
A subset of respondents assigned Module 1 were asked an innovative sequence designed to measure the concept of resilience, defined as the individual's ability to recover quickly and completely from any misfortune or challenge.

Module 2: Time use
This module contains a set of questions on unpaid but economically productive activities -- home maintenance, volunteer work, and informal help to others. Together with core questions on paid employment, these questions (adapted from Herzog et al., 1989) permit a balanced assessment of the productive contributions of older adults.

Module 3-4: Alternative ADLs
The issue of comparability or equivalence of alternative functional health measures is an important one because of the wide-spread use of ADL measures in policy research. Module 3 contains the ADL questions which were been proposed for (and subsequently used in) the second LSOA; Module 4 replicates the ADL function items on the NLTCS screen. (Reference: Rodgers, Willard L. and Baila Miller. 1997. "A Comparative Analysis of ADL Questions in Surveys of Older People." Journals of Gerontology, Social Sciences 52B(Special Issue):21-36. )

Module 5: WAIS Similarities
The core AHEAD measures of cognitive functioning reflect basic orientation and processing skills and the ability to learn new information. These measures do not assess the dimension of abstract reasoning which is thought to decline less precipitously with age. Abstract reasoning also may serve as an important compensatory cognitive skill. The WAIS Similarities is a widely used measure of abstract reasoning and replicates the scale in the core HRS 1 interview (Wallace and Herzog, 1995). This module also included two ADL questions that are asked in the U.S. Census long form. (Reference: Wallace, Robert B. and A. R. Herzog. 1995. "Overview of the Health Measures in the Health and Retirement Survey." The Journal of Human Resources Volume 30 (Supplement 1995):S84-S107. )

Module 6: Quality of life
In combination with other health measures, quality of life variables can be used to describe the psycho-social consequences of declining health. The conflict between quality of life concerns and medical care may be particularly common among the oldest old for whom comorbidities often necessitate invasive, painful, time-consuming, or expensive medical regimes. A focus on the essential quality of life issue -- whether life is still worth living --underlies the questions in this module which were adapted from unpublished work by Lawton (personal communication, 1993) and from the purpose-in-life subscale of Ryff's Subjective Well-Being Scale, 1989. In addition to the quality of life items, a few questions on mastery and personal control from Pearlin and Schooler (1978) are included in the module.

Module 7: In-depth ADLs
Research on cognitive, psychomotor, and psychological functioning indicates that there is considerable potential for adapting to and compensating for declining functioning among the elderly. Specific compensating mechanisms include a change in the ways an activity is performed, increasing the time allotted for completing the activity, lowering standards for the completion of an activity, and modifying the immediate environment to facilitate performance (Keller, et al., 1993). In order to explore whether such adaptive mechanisms account for a lack of reported difficulty with bathing despite obvious physical or cognitive impairments, Module 6 probes various detailed adaptive strategies for bathing. Because financial issues are a central concern in AHEAD, comparable questions on adaptation and performance of financial management activities appear at the end of Module 6.

Module 9: Financial pressure
There is considerable interest in the ways in which financial pressures structure the lives of the elderly. Module 9 asks respondents to indicate if they find it difficult to pay their bills or if they cut back on non-medical expenses, such as eating out or traveling . This module also asks about the perceived fairness of policy alternatives for making long-term care in nursing homes more accessible to older people.

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