Objective: To examine spousal associations between functional limitation and depressive symptom trajectories in a national sample of older long-term married couples. Design: We used 14.5-year longitudinal data on functional limitations and depressive symptoms from 1,704 couples participating in the Study of Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). Main Outcome Measures: Activities of daily living and a short version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale were used. Results: Between-person difference findings corroborate previous research by showing that levels and changes in functional limitations and depressive symptoms are closely interrelated among wives and husbands. Our results further demonstrate sizable associations in levels and changes in functional limitations and depressive symptoms between spouses. For example, functional limitation levels in one spouse were associated with depressive symptom levels in the other spouse. Spousal associations remained after controlling for individual (age, education, cognition) and spousal covariates (marriage duration, number of children) and did not differ between women and men. Conclusion: Our findings highlight the important role of marital relationships in shaping health trajectories in old age because they show that some of the well-documented between-person differences in functional limitations and depressive symptoms are in fact related to spouses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health