In a meta-analysis of 25 studies, the relationship of both specific types of negative life events and the total number of experienced events to depression in old age was studied. Almost all negative life events appeared to have a modest but significant relationship with depression. The total number of negative life events and the total number of daily hassles appeared to have the strongest relationship with depression (respectively, combined r = .15, n = 5,037, and combined r = .41, n = 461), whereas sudden unexpected events were the only cluster of negative life events that seemed not to be related to depression scores (combined r = .05, n = 857). These findings suggest that providers and developers of intervention and prevention programs for elderly people should pay attention to the occurrence of negative life events. Special attention should be given to elderly people who have experienced an accumulation of stressful events and daily hassles, because they seem to be a group at greater risk.
Kraaij, V., Arensman, E., & Spinhoven, P. (2002). Negative life events and depression in elderly persons: a meta-analysis. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 57(1), 87-94.