Objectives: This study examines whether living arrangements and changes in living arrangements are associated with survival among older community-dwelling adults, and whether differences in health status account for observed differences in survival.
Methods: The sample consisted of 5085 persons aged 70 years or older who had participated in the Longitudinal Study of Aging in 1984 and 1986. Proportional hazards models were used to examine associations of survival time through 1990 with living arrangements in 1984 and with changes in living arrangements from 1984 to 1986.
Results: Women who lived with someone other than a spouse at baseline or who changed from living with a spouse to living with someone other than a spouse were at greater risk of dying than women in other living arrangements, independent of health status or functioning. Among men, survival time was not generally associated with baseline living arrangements.
Conclusions: Older adults who live alone or who change from living with someone to living alone do not have an increased mortality risk. However, living with or changing to living with someone other than a spouse may be associated with increased mortality risk.