Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of an incident of fall on depressive symptoms and the moderating role of social factors (marital status, living arrangement, family network, and friend network) in older adults in South Korea. We hypothesized that the adverse mental health effect of a fall would be pronounced among those who lack social resources (e.g., no spouse, living alone, and social disconnectedness). Method: Using the 2017 National Survey of Older Koreans, data were drawn from 8,522 survey participants (aged 65 or older). Multivariate linear regression models of depressive symptoms were examined with an array of predictors: (1) demographic and health variables, (2) social factors, (3) an incident of fall, and (4) interactions between falls and social factors. Results: More than 15% of the sample had at least one fall in the past 12 months. Higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with an incident of fall, not married and living alone, and lack of family and friend networks. Not married and living alone and family network significantly moderated the relationship between falls and depressive symptoms. The adverse mental health effect of a fall was more pronounced among those who were not married and living alone and who reported not having any close family members than their counterparts. Conclusion: The findings highlight the critical role of family and social resources in protecting older Koreans from the negative mental health consequences of a fall. Findings also provide implications for developing fall prevention and management programs, suggesting prioritizing older adults with limited social resources.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A3A2046745).
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- older adults
- social resources
- South Korea