Health and Social-Physical Environment Profiles Among Older Adults Living Alone: Associations With Depressive Symptoms

Objectives: We examined differences in depressive symptoms among people 65 and older who live alone, exploring whether these differences are associated with both health and environmental contexts. Method:
Data are from the 2006 wave of Health Retirement Study (N = 2,956, age range: 65-104). We used a two-step cluster analytical approach to identify subgroups of health-limitation profiles and environmental profiles. Logistic regression models determined associations between subgroups and depressive symptoms. Results:
Cluster analysis identified four health-profile subgroups (sensory-cognitively impaired, physically impaired, multiply impaired, and healthy) and three different physical-social environmental-profile subgroups (physically average/socially unsupported, physically unsupported/socially supported, and physically supported/socially above average). Compared to members of healthier groups, members of the multiply impaired group were the oldest and were more likely both to live in senior housing and to have depressive symptoms if they lived in a physically average/socially unsupported environment. Members of the sensory-cognitively impaired group were more likely to have depressive symptoms when they lived in a physically unsupported/socially supported environment. Discussion:
Findings regarding the range of both health and social-physical environmental profiles as well as the associations between person-environment profiles combinations (fit) and depressive symptomatology have important policy and intervention implications.