Life events, emotional support, and health of older people



The effects of life events, emotional support, interaction of life events and emotional support, and age on indices of physical and psychological health were examined within a hierarchical multiple-regression design. Fifty older people who were randomly selected from among the residents of a high-rise apartment building provided retrospective data on their life events and emotional support. These same subjects provided more recent data on their functional health, distress arising from chronic health problems, and four indices of morale (agitation, attitude toward own aging, lonely dissatisfaction, and a combined index of the morale dimensions). As expected, significant multivariate effects were demonstrated on all but two measures: distress arising from chronic health problems and attitude toward own aging. Examination of the independent contributions to these effects showed variations depending on the health index of focus. Expected moderations of the effects of life events by emotional support effects were not demonstrated. Results are discussed in relationship to previous research and the theoretical expectation that emotional support would moderate the effects of life events on health.