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Exposures to adverse events are associated with impaired later-life psychological health. While these associations depend on the type of event, the manner in which associations for different event types depend on when they occur within the life course has received less attention. We investigated associations between counts of adverse events over the life course, and wellbeing and mental health outcomes in older people, according to their timing (age of occurrence), orientation (self or other) and, both their timing and orientation.
Linear and logistic random-effects models for repeated observations.
A total of 4,208 respondents aged >50 years with 22,146 observations across Waves 1–7 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Cumulative adversity was measured by counts of 16 types of events occurring within four age ranges over the life course using retrospective life history data. These were categorized into other- (experienced through harms to others) and self-oriented events. Outcomes included CASP-12 (control, autonomy, self-realization, and pleasure), the eight-item Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, and self-appraised subjective life satisfaction.
Additional adverse events were associated with lower CASP-12 and life satisfaction scores, and higher odds of probable depressive caseness. In childhood, other-oriented events had a larger negative association with later-life wellbeing than self-oriented events; the converse was found for events occurring in adulthood.
Events occurring at all life course stages were independently associated with both later-life wellbeing and depression in a cumulative fashion. Certain age ranges may represent sensitive periods for specific event types.
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