Adverse life events among community-dwelling persons aged 65-70 years: gender differences in occurrence and perceived psychological consequences

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2010 Jan;45(1):9-16. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0035-3. Epub 2009 Mar 21.


Objectives: To describe the occurrence of selected adverse life events in young-old men and women, as well as their perceived psychological consequences.

Methods: In 2005, 1,422 participants in the Lausanne Cohort 65+ study, born in 1934-1938, self-reported whether they experienced any of 26 life events during the preceding year. Most participants (N = 1,309, 92%) completed the geriatric adverse life events scale during a face-to-face interview, by rating the level of stress associated with each event, as well as its impact on their psychological well-being.

Results: Overall, 72% of the participants experienced at least one of the 26 events in the preceding year (range 1-9). Disease affecting the respondent (N = 525) or a close relative (N = 276) was most frequent, as well as the death of a friend or non-close relative (N = 274). Women indicated a higher frequency of events (mean 2.1 vs. 1.7 events, P < 0.001), as well as a higher level of stress and a stronger negative impact on well-being than men. In multivariate analyses adjusting for self-rated health, depressive symptoms and comorbidity, female gender remained significantly associated with the level of stress and negative impact on psychological well-being.

Conclusion: This exploratory study shows that several types of adverse life events frequently occur at age 65-70, with gender differences both in the frequency of reporting and consequences of these events. However, information on this topic is limited and studies based on different populations and designs are needed to better understand the impact of such events.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Age Factors
  • Aged / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland / epidemiology