Family Support During Hospitalization Buffers Depressive Symptoms Among Independent Older Adults

Ksenya Shulyaev, Yochy Spielberg, Nurit Gur-Yaish, Anna Zisberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Hospitalization is a stressful event that may lead to deterioration in older adults’ mental health. Drawing on the stress-buffering hypothesis, we examined whether family support during hospitalization would moderate the relations between level of independence and in-hospital depressive symptoms. Method: This research was a secondary analysis of a cohort study conducted with a sample of 370 hospitalized older adults. Acutely ill older adults reported their level of independence at time of hospitalization and their level of depressive symptoms three days into the hospital stay. Family support was estimated by a daily report of hours family members stayed with the hospitalized older adult. Results: Independent older adults whose family members stayed longer hours in the hospital had fewer depressive symptoms than independent older adults with shorter family visits. Relations between depressive symptoms and family support were not apparent for dependent older adults, even though their family members stayed more hours. Conclusions: This study partially supports the stress-buffering hypothesis, in that social support ameliorated depressive symptoms among hospitalized independent older adults. Clinical implications: Assessing depressive symptoms and functional ability and creating an environment conducive to family support for older adults may be beneficial to hospitalized older adults’ mental health.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)341-351
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • Basic activities of daily living
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Family support
  • Hospitalization
  • Instrumental activities of daily living
  • Older adults

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Social Psychology


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