Young Adult Stressors and Their Parents' Health Over Time

Yulin Yang , University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY)
Ashley Barr, University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY)

The inverse stress-health relationship is well documented by large body of interdisciplinary literature.From the perspective of life course and one of its principles of linked lives (Elder 1985, 1998), the objective of this research was to investigate how young adult children’s stressors during a sensitive period—the transition to adulthood—impact the mental and physical health of their aging parents. We analyzed longitudinal data of three waves across 20 years from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study to examine stress contagion effects on six different parental health outcomes: self-rated poor physical health, self-rated poor mental health, chronic symptoms, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and functional health decline. We also find young adult children’s (YAC) stressors are positively associated with health decline for all health outcomes, adjusting for covariates. Consistent with previous research, the results suggest that stressors suffered by young adults during the transition to adulthood extend beyond themselves to their parents.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2