Changes in depressive symptoms in the context of disablement processes: Role of demographic characteristics, cognitive function, health, and social support

Elizabeth B. Fauth, Denis Gerstorf, Nilam Ram, Bo Malmberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives. Gerontological research suggests that depressive symptoms show antecedent and consequent relations with late-life disability. Less is known, however, about how depressive symptoms change with the progression of disability-related processes and what factors moderate such changes. Methods. We applied multiphase growth models to longitudinal data pooled across 4 Swedish studies of very old age (N = 779, M age = 86 years at disability onset, 64% women) to describe change in depressive symptoms prior to disability onset, at or around disability onset (the measurement wave at which assistance in personal activities of daily living was first recorded), and postdisability onset. Results. Results indicate that, on average, depressive symptoms slightly increase with approaching disability, increase at onset, and decline in the postdisability phase. Age, study membership, being a woman, and multimorbidity were related to depressive symptoms, but social support emerged as the most powerful predictor of level and change in depressive symptoms. Discussion. Our findings are consistent with conceptual notions implicating disability-related factors as key contributors to late-life change and suggest that contextual and psychosocial factors play a pivotal role for how well people adapt to late-life challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume67 B
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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