Cohabitation status and onset of disability among older Danes: is social participation a possible mediator?

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of cohabitation status in older men and women on (a) onset of disability at 3- and 4.5-year follow-up and (b) changes in functional ability between 3- and 4.5-year follow-up, and to analyze whether this effect was mediated by social participation. METHOD: A total of 2,533 nondisabled older men and women enrolled in the Danish Intervention Study on Preventive Home Visits constituted the study population. Data were collected by mailed questionnaires in 1998-1999, 2000, 2001-2002, and 2003. RESULTS: Living alone significantly increased the risk of onset of disability (T3 OR = 1.60[1.06-2.43], T4 OR = 1.74[1.22-2.47]) and the risk of sustained poor functional ability (OR = 2.35[1.44-3.84]) among men, but not among single-living women. Social participation mediated only a small part of the effect of cohabitation status on functional ability. DISCUSSION: Our results underline the importance of cohabitation/marriage for maintaining a high functional ability among older men.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)235-53
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Activities of Daily Living; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Denmark; Disability Evaluation; Disabled Persons; Family Characteristics; Female; Humans; Male; Residence Characteristics; Social Environment; Social Support

ID: 6091394