BASE-Publications: Abstracts

Baltes, M. M., Maas, I., Wilms, H.-U., Borchelt, M., & Little, T. D. (1999). Everyday competence in old and very old age: Theoretical considerations and empirical findings. In P. B. Baltes & K. U. Mayer (Eds.), The Berlin Aging Study: Aging from 70 to 100 (pp. 384-402). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In this chapter we focus on the construction of a model of everyday competence, differentiating between a basic level of competence (BaCo), defined mainly by self-care related activities, and an expanded level of competence (ExCo), reflecting mostly discretionary or optional activities such as leisure, social, and committed, that is, instrumental activities of daily living. The two components are based on theory regarding their definition as well as empirical predictors. Since BaCo encompasses highly automatized and routinized activities that are necessary for survival, it is thought to be predicted foremost by health-related resources. In contrast, ExCo, encompasses activities that are based on individual preferences, skills, motivations, and interests, and therefore should be more dependent on psychosocial resources. To test this model, a multidimensional or multivariable assessment of the two components and their predictors is necessary. The Berlin Aging Study (BASE) provides such a context. The findings support the model: A total of 91% of the reliable variance in ExCo and 86% in BaCo can be explained by the resources. Furthermore, all age-related variance in everyday competence is accounted for by these health-related and psychosocial resources. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.