Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 July 2020
The identification of protection factors regarding older adults’ mental health is essential. Self-compassion, the capacity to be kind towards the self during challenging times, may be one such factor. Although still scarce, some research in this field has already been conducted with older adults. Our research question was the following: what is currently known about the role of self-compassion in the psychological (mal)adjustment of older adults?
To review any study designs, in any setting, where self-compassion and any indicators of psychological (mal)adjustment were assessed in participants aged ≥60 years.
A scoping review of English, Portuguese, and Spanish published and unpublished materials, using the EBSCOhost Research and PubMed databases and reference lists. Search terms included self-compassion, self compassion, older adults, elderly, seniors, and geriatrics. After screening and selection of the studies, we charted the relevant data.
Eleven published studies (2012–2018) were reviewed. Self-compassion was associated with, and a predictor of, diverse mental health indicators in older adults. Self-compassion was also associated with indicators of physical health, moderated the relationship between physical health indicators and mental health indicators, and mediated the relationship between diverse mental health indicators. Results were obtained with participants of different nationalities and age. All studies had a cross-sectional design, and most studies recruited well-functioning community residents.
Self-compassion is beneficial for the psychological adjustment of older adults and may also benefit their biological functioning. Self-compassion seems particularly relevant for those experiencing more negative life events. Studies with more robust methodologies are needed in order to replicate these findings.