The Moderating Role of Views of Aging in the Longitudinal Relationship Between Physical Health and Mental Distress

Sharon Avidor, Yuval Palgi, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Some degree of mental distress is commonly present in old age, and it is often exacerbated in later life following changes in physical health. This work presents in 2 studies among samples that have been exposed to stressful experiences in the past, a prospective examination of how the association between physical health and mental distress is attenuated by 2 forms of views on aging, evaluations of age, and evaluations of one's future. METHOD: Study 1 (N = 226) was conducted in 2008 (Time 1) and 2014 (Time 2), among Israeli war veterans (mean age 64.90, SD = 5.04); Study 2 (N = 132) was conducted in 2014 (Time 1) and 2015 (Time 2) among older adults who were exposed to ongoing rocket fire in the south of Israel (mean age 66.44, SD = 9.77). Participants reported on their subjective age, subjective life expectancy (SLE [in Study 1]/distance to death [DtD; in Study 2]), health, and mental distress. RESULTS: Both studies showed that after controlling for exposure to trauma and for Time 1 mental distress, Time 1 subjective age, but not SLE/DtD, moderated the association between Time 1 physical health and Time 2 mental distress. DISCUSSION: Subjective age and SLE represent distinct features of views of aging. Subjective age may reflect perceptions of one's aging process, associated more directly with health-related outcomes over time. SLE reflects future, death-related perceptions, therefore perhaps less directly associated with such outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-880
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume76
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Keywords

  • Mental distress
  • Physical health
  • Subjective age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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