Do Family Relationships Buffer the Impact of Disability on Older Adults' Daily Mood? An Exploration of Gender and Marital Status Differences

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Carr, Deborah S., Jennifer C. Cornman, and Vicki Freedman. 2019. "Do Family Relationships Buffer the Impact of Disability on Older Adults' Daily Mood? An Exploration of Gender and Marital Status Differences." Journal of Marriage and Family, 81(3): 729-746.


We evaluate whether non-spousal family support and strain moderate the effect of disability on older adults' daily frustration and happiness, and whether these patterns differ by gender and marital status.

Background: Stress buffering perspectives predict that harmful effects of stress on well-being are buffered by family support, whereas stress proliferation models suggest effects are intensified by family strain. The extent to which family relationships moderate these associations may vary on the basis of gender and marital status, as non-spousal family ties are considered especially salient for women and unpartnered persons.

Method: Data are from the 2013 Disability and Use of Time supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (n = 1,474), a national sample of adults ages 60+. Multivariate regression models are estimated for married/partnered men and women, and formerly married women.

Results: Neither family support nor strain moderated the effect of severe impairment on married men's emotions. Family support buffered the effect of impairment on frustration among divorced and widowed women, but not their married counterparts. Counterintuitively, family arguments reduced frustration and increased happiness among married women with severe impairment.

Conclusion: Consistent with stress buffering perspectives, family support was most protective for the vulnerable population of formerly married older women with severe impairment.

Implications: This study underscores the importance of family support for formerly married women managing health-related challenges in later life.


Family Demography Aging & Retirement

Browse | Search | Next

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Harvard Magazine looks at Inglehart and Norris' book - Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, & Authoritarian Populism

Courant on The Real Problem With Grade Inflation

Study by Miller et al. shows that doctors prescribe more branded medications after marketing visits by the makers of those drugs.

More News


Data Scientist Job Open at PSC/PDHP

New Investigator Mentoring Program (PDHP) Applications Sought

More Highlights

Connect with PSC follow PSC on Twitter Like PSC on Facebook