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Frontiers in Psychology

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Depression -- Older Adults -- Case Studies


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine associations between level of depressive symptoms in older adult spouse/partner couples and their physical health and social factors (social activity and number of close friends). Methods: Using data from 116 community-dwelling couples (age 76.2 ± 8.5), we simultaneously analyzed associations between depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale, range 0–11) and dyadic physical health, engagement in social activities, and connectedness with close friends. Results: Greater engagement in social activities was associated with fewer depressive symptoms in men, whereas more close friendships were associated with fewer depressive symptoms in women, controlling for partner e􀀀ects, age, education, and cognitive function, with good model fit. Additionally, more disparate physical health within the couple (latent incongruence score) was associated with greater depressive symptoms in men. Discussion: Less social activity and fewer close friends were associated with depressive symptoms in older adult couples, but may be distinctly influential depending on gender and in the context of the older adult couple’s physical health.


© 2022 Miller, Steele, Wu, Kaye, Dodge, Gonzales and Lyons. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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