Partner status and mental and physical health of independently living men aged 70 years and older

Australas J Ageing. 2016 Jun;35(2):143-6. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12234. Epub 2016 Jan 25.


Aim: To describe and compare the mental health and physical functioning of community-dwelling men aged 70 years and over who live alone, and those who live with their partner/spouse.

Method: Data were obtained from the baseline survey of the New South Wales 45 and Up Study. Mental health was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and physical health was measured using the Medical Outcome Short Form 36 physical functioning scale.

Results: 37 690 community-dwelling men aged 70 years or over were included in the analyses. Men living alone were more likely to have high psychological distress scores and lower physical functioning scores compared to men living with a spouse/partner within each age group, except those 85 and over.

Conclusions: Specific health and welfare programs targeted to the increasing number of older men living alone may be needed to address their higher levels of psychological distress and lower levels of physical functioning.

Keywords: ageing; mental health; older men; partner status; physical functioning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Family Relations / psychology*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Independent Living / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Single Person / psychology*
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires