The Role of Goal and Meaning in Life for Older Adults Facing Interpersonal Stress

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Aging & Mental Health


Interpersonal stressful events (ISE) have been shown to be potent predictors of major depressive symptoms among older adults. This study examines the relationships between recent ISE and depressive symptoms in late life and explores whether having coping cognitive resource (e.g. finding meaning and goal in life) can buffer the effects of ISE on depressive symptoms for older adults. We utilized a sample of residents in Florida retirement communities (N = 588) who participated in a long-term-panel study using yearly assessments for six years. Additionally, we modeled within-person differences in ISE and depressive symptoms simultaneously with multilevel modeling. Then, we tested the moderating effect of coping resource (i.e. meaning in life and goal in life) in the association between ISE and depressive symptoms. We found that the mean level of ISE is associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower life satisfaction. In addition, higher levels of within-person meaning and goal buffered the negative effect of ISE on depressive symptoms for older adults. Similarly, within-person meaning and goal also attenuated the negative effect of ISE on life satisfaction.