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Role of pragmatic language in aging and its relationship with quality of life

Messer, Rachel Helen
The study examined the relationship between pragmatic language decline and older adults' quality of life, as well as social factors that could affect health. Quality of life is a term used to describe an individual's life satisfaction as it relates to physical, mental, and social needs. Quality of life for older adults can be affected by many factors, such as changes in physical or psychological health, cognitive aging, social isolation, and other factors. Pragmatic language is one area that has not yet been investigated as to how its decline may affect specific aspects of older adults' quality of life. Pragmatic language aspects are verbal and nonverbal language aspects that dictate social use of language, and have been shown to decline with age. There was support for the hypothesis that in older adults, the decreased ability to produce and comprehend several aspects of pragmatic language (e.g., use of gestures, emphatic stress, and ability to make inferences) are related to lower quality of life, namely in the realm of physical and mental health. Additionally, frequency of social contact was related to quality of life and language ability for some aspects of pragmatic language ability. Future directions for pragmatic language and health research with older adults are discussed.