Ramsey et al., 2016. The effects of daily co-occurrence of affect on older adults' reactivity to health stressors


Objectives. The present study examined age differences among older adults in the daily co-occurrence of affect and its potential role in buffering the negative effects of health stressors.

Design. Participants were from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS) and included 249 young-old adults (age = 60–79 years, M=71.6) and 64 old-old adults (age = 80–89, M = 82.9) who completed questionnaires assessing stressors, physical health symptoms, and positive and negative affect on eight consecutive days.

Results. An independent samples t-test showed young-old and old-old adults did not significantly differ in their mean levels of daily co-occurrence of affect. The between-person relationships among stressors, health, and daily co-occurrence of affect revealed that neither stressors nor health were significantly related to daily co-occurrence of affect. However, results from a multilevel model revealed a three-way cross-level interaction (Health Stressor X Age Group X Co-Occurrence of Affect) where old-old adults with higher levels of co-occurrence of affect were less emotionally reactive to health stressors than young-old adults.

Conclusion. These findings provide support for the assertion that co-occurrence of affect functions in an adaptive capacity and highlight the importance of examining domain specific stressors.