Given global population ageing and the fact that Australia is experiencing a significant increase in the proportion of older adults in its population, research into ageing issues has become a national priority. Whilst body image and self-esteem have been empirically linked, the relationship among older adults has been neglected. This study investigated several body-image variables and their relationship to self-esteem in a sample of 148 men and women aged 65–85 years who were living independently in the Perth Metropolitan Area of Western Australia. They completed the ‘Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale’ and the ‘Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire’. The results indicated, contrary to a common misconception, that body-image concerns are significant to self-esteem in older adulthood, but that these vary by age and gender. Whilst women appear to develop various strategies to counter the effects of ageing, men seem to be more negatively affected, particularly in relation to body functioning. The findings shed light on the meaning of body image in older adulthood. A better understanding of the meaning of body image, of the factors that influence the meaning, and of how these relate to older adults' self-esteem may help older adults develop a positive body image that will contribute to psycho-social strengths and enhance their quality of life.
(Accepted March 01 2009)