Do family relationships buffer the impact of disability on older adults' daily mood? An exploration of gender and marital status differences
Cornman, Jennifer C.
Freedman, Vicki A.
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Citation (published version)Deborah Carr, Jennifer C Cornman, Vicki A Freedman. 2019. "Do Family Relationships Buffer the Impact of Disability on Older Adults' Daily Mood? An Exploration of Gender and Marital Status Differences.." J Marriage Fam, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp. 729 - 746. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12557
OBJECTIVE: We evaluate whether non-spousal family support and strain moderate the effect of disability on two daily emotions (happiness and frustration) among older adults, and whether these patterns differ by gender among married persons, and by marital status among women. BACKGROUND: Stress buffering perspectives predict that harmful effects of stress on well-being are buffered by family support, whereas stress proliferation models suggest these effects are intensified by family strain. The extent to which family relationships moderate associations between stress and well-being may vary on the basis of gender and marital status, as non-spousal family ties are considered especially salient for women and those without a romantic partner. METHOD: Daily diary 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 daily emotions. Family support buffered the effect of severe impairment on frustration among divorced and widowed women, but not their married counterparts. Counterintuitively, family arguments mitigated against 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 the large and growing population of formerly married women managing health-related challenges in later life.