Felt obligation to help others as a protective factor against losses in psychological well-being following functional decline in middle and later life

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Abstract

This study examined felt obligation to help others in two domains (close others and society) as protective factors against losses in psychological well-being following functional decline. Lagged-dependent regression models were estimated using data from 849 respondents aged 35-74 years and without any functional limitations at baseline in the 1995-2005 National Survey of Midlife in the United States. Greater felt obligation to help close others protected against declining self-acceptance in the face of more severe functional decline, and greater felt obligation to help society protected against declining personal growth and self-acceptance. Greater felt obligation to help close others and society protected against increasing depressive symptoms at younger ages in adulthood. Findings suggest the importance for additional research on how aspects of altruism can promote psychological adaptation to declining functional health in middle and later life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-732
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume64
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

Keywords

  • Altruism
  • Compassionate love
  • Disability
  • Resilience
  • Social relationships
  • Social responsibility

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