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Functional Disability and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adulthood: The Role of General Goal Adjustment Capacities and Specific Goal Adjustment Strategies

Title:

Functional Disability and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adulthood: The Role of General Goal Adjustment Capacities and Specific Goal Adjustment Strategies

Dunne, Erin (2012) Functional Disability and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adulthood: The Role of General Goal Adjustment Capacities and Specific Goal Adjustment Strategies. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Functional disability is a common age-related problem that has deleterious effects on the well-being of the elderly population. Such disabilities can contribute to a loss of perceived control and autonomy by impeding older adults’ ability to accomplish both daily goals (i.e., activities of daily living [ADLs]), and other longer-term life pursuits. However, theory and research also suggest that older individuals may avoid the negative consequences of functional disability if they engage in the adaptive self-regulation of unattainable goals. The present studies investigate the role of goal adjustment capacities in the management of functional disability, and identify pathways through which goal adjustment capacities can influence well-being.

Study 1 consists of a longitudinal investigation into the associations between older adults’ goal disengagement and goal reengagement capacities, functional disability, and depressive symptoms among 135 community-dwelling older adults. Using four waves of data, results showed that six-year increases in depressive symptoms were predicted by poor goal disengagement capacities and high levels of functional disability. Moreover, the impact of goal disengagement on depressive symptomatology was particularly strong among participants with functional disability. These findings indicate that goal disengagement can buffer the association between functional disability and increases in depressive symptomatology over time.

Study 2 investigates the specific goal adjustment processes involved in the adjustment to ADL-related goals that are constrained by functional disability. This study first developed and validated the Activities of Daily Living – Goal Adjustment Scale among 135 community-dwelling older adults, with and without functional disability. Factor analyses identified two separate factors as psychological disengagement and compensatory reengagement, and the scale exhibited good internal consistency and validity among older adults with functional disability. The second part of the study found that these specific ADL-related goal adjustment strategies mediated the cross-sectional relationships between general goal adjustment capacities (i.e., goal disengagement and goal reengagement) and depressive symptoms in this population. These findings suggest that general tendencies to adjust to unattainable goals can exert both direct and indirect effects on depressive symptoms through the specific regulation of ADL-related problems.

Overall, these findings contribute to the literature on pathways to successful aging. Findings on the adaptive role of goal adjustment in the management of functional disability are discussed in the context of developmental theories and adaptive self-regulation.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Dunne, Erin
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:13 April 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Wrosch, Carsten
ID Code:973795
Deposited By:ERIN DUNNE
Deposited On:20 Jun 2012 15:47
Last Modified:20 Jun 2012 15:47
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