|Title||Take a Sad Song and Make it Better: Spousal Activity Limitations, Caregiving, and Depressive Symptoms Among Couples|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|Authors||Han, SHwang, Kim, K, Burr, JA|
|Journal||Social Science & Medicine|
|Keywords||agency, Caregivers, caregiving system model, depression, Disability, linked lives, Transitions|
ObjectivesFramed around key concepts of the life course perspective, we examined the linkages between spousal activity limitations, caregiving transitions, and depression among married couples. The key study objectives were 1) to demonstrate how the caregiving-depression link widely reported in earlier research may have been over-stated, and 2) to investigate whether caregiving yields mental health benefits by weakening the link between spousal activity limitations and depressive symptoms.MethodsWe used longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (2004–2016) to examine a national sample of coupled individuals (6,475 couples; 57,844 person-wave observations). A series of longitudinal actor-partner interdependence models were used to estimate within-person associations between spousal activity limitations, caregiving transitions, and depressive symptoms among coupled individuals.ResultsFindings demonstrated that spousal activity limitations function as a confounder for the association between caregiving transitions and depressive symptoms. Results further provided evidence that transitioning into a caregiving role in the context of spousal activity limitations alleviated symptoms of depression for the caregiver.ConclusionOur findings provide an explanation for the extended longevity benefit reaped by caregivers increasingly reported in recent population studies. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.