Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Julie Hicks Patrick
James Vernon Odom
Physical disability and visual impairment place older adults at a doubled risk for depression and a seven-fold increased risk for death by suicide. Social interaction is one of the factors that may aid adaptation to vision impairment. Preliminary research suggests that giving support to others has a significant relation with fewer depressive symptoms, greater life satisfaction, and greater satisfaction with support received in older adults. There has been no study to date addressing the role of giving support to others in protecting against suicidal behaviors, or other factors related to suicide risk, such as reasons for living. Using a sample of older adults with vision related diagnoses (N = 101), this study investigated the direct, moderating, and mediating roles of informal and formal support giving behaviors and satisfaction with support received from others on depressive symptoms, suicide risk, reasons for living, and life satisfaction. Higher scores on a measure of informal support giving were related to lower likelihood of reported suicide ideation, OR = .82, CI [.68, .99]. Higher scores on measures of volunteer activity were directly related to higher levels of reasons for living (Number of hours volunteered during the past year: b = .07, SE = .02, p = .05; Volunteered during past year: b = .23, SE = .09, p = .04). Volunteer activity was an intervening variable in the indirect relation between lower levels of disability and higher levels of reasons for living (Number of hours volunteer: b = .07, SE = .04; Number of volunteer organizations: b = .06, SE = .03). Satisfaction with support received from others was related to lower levels of depressive symptoms, beta = -.21, p = .03, suicide ideation, OR = .02, CI [<.001, .52], and higher levels of reasons for living, b = .51, SE = .19, p = .005. Satisfaction with support buffered the relation between disability and life satisfaction. Perceived satisfaction with support was also an intervening variable in the indirect relation between higher levels of visual functioning and lower levels of depressive symptoms, b = -.002, SE = .001, as well as higher levels of reasons for living, b = .001, SE = .0005. This study provides several important insights into the relation between visual functioning, support giving behaviors, and mental health in older adults with vision related diagnoses. Informal and formal support giving may be two targets for decreasing suicide risk and increasing protective factors. Satisfaction with support received from others is an important construct in understanding both positive and negative aspects of mental health in older adults. These results shed light on the role giving support and perceived satisfaction with support have on mental health outcomes within the context of visual disability.
Smith, Merideth, "Giving Support and Mental Health in Older Adults at Risk for Vision Impairment" (2013). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 425.