This study examined the life satisfaction of 58 elderly American Indians and its relationship to selected external and internal environmental factors. Elderly Indians were 51-85 years of age and resided on two midwestern reservations. Data were collected through use of the Life Satisfaction Index Z-scale (LSI-Z), the Oars Multi-dimensional Functional Assessment Questionnaire (OARS) and a semi-structured interview schedule. Findings indicated that life satisfaction tended to be high. Six internal environmental variables explained 40% of the variance in life satisfaction scores. A higher correlation was found between self-perception of life satisfaction and mental health than objective ratings on these two variables. This study suggests that variables associated with the internal environment may be useful as indicators of life satisfaction in elderly reservation American Indians and that subjective measures of life satisfaction may be more predictive of mental health than objective measures.
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