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Although it is known that certain emotion regulation processes produce a buffering effect on the relationship between life events and well-being, this issue has been poorly studied in the elderly population. Thus, the aim of the present study is to test and confirm a comprehensive model of the impact that past life events have on older adults’ psychological distress, exploring the possible mediating roles of emotion regulation processes. These include rumination, experiential avoidance, and personal growth.
In this cross-sectional study, 387 people over 60 years old residing in the community were assessed on life events, physical functioning, emotion regulation variables, psychological well-being, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The structural model tested achieved a satisfactory fit to the data, explaining 73% of the variance of older adults’ psychological distress. In addition, the main results suggest possible mediation effects of both the physical functioning and the emotional variables: rumination, experiential avoidance, and personal growth in the face of hardship.
These findings confirm the importance of emotion regulation processes in the final stages of life. They reveal the various adaptive and maladaptive mechanisms that underlie the relationship between life events and psychological distress. The findings suggest – both in the explanatory models of psychological well-being and in psychotherapeutic interventions – the importance of emotion regulation in the elderly population’s health.
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