European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 323–334 | Cite as

Which category of lifetime adversity accelerates physical impairment among Israeli older adults?

  • Amit ShriraEmail author
  • Yuval Palgi
  • Ehud Bodner
  • Dov Shmotkin
Original Investigation


Preliminary evidence suggests that exposure to lifetime cumulative adversity is related to faster increase in physical impairment with time, especially when depressive symptoms are present. Nevertheless, it is still unclear whether different adversity categories accelerate impairment. The current study capitalized on the unique accounts of adversity available in the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE-Israel) by focusing on different categories of adversity, while accounting for their interaction with depressive symptoms in predicting trajectories of physical impairment (i.e., chronic medical conditions and disability). Data of 1665 participants (mean age = 63.08, SD = 10.04 at Wave 1) were drawn from the first three waves of SHARE-Israel. Respondents reported exposure to bereavement (e.g., experiencing the death of a spouse), war and terrorism (e.g., being wounded in terrorist attack), and victimization (e.g., being a victim of abuse or assault). Other measures assessed depressive symptoms, chronic medical conditions, and disability. Growth-curve models showed that bereavement and exposure to war and terrorism were related to specific measures of physical impairment. Moreover, three-way interactions showed that clinical level of depressive symptoms coupled with exposure to either bereavement or war and terrorism predicted a faster increase in chronic medical conditions and disability. The findings offer a differentiated outlook on the effect of adversity on age-related increase in physical impairment. Practitioners should consider that older adults previously exposed to bereavement, war and terrorism are at risk for a hastened physical decline, especially when they suffer from depressive symptoms.


Lifetime adversity Depressive symptoms Chronic medical conditions Disability SHARE-Israel Growth-curve models 



Waves 1 and 2 data collection in Israel was supported by National Institutes of Health of the United States (NIH), National Insurance Institute of Israel, German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), European Commission through the 7th framework program, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Senior Citizens. Wave 3 data collection was funded by the NIH (R01-AG031729) and the Ministry of Senior Citizens. The survey was managed by the Israeli Gerontological Data Center at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amit Shrira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yuval Palgi
    • 2
  • Ehud Bodner
    • 3
  • Dov Shmotkin
    • 4
  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Department of Social SciencesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Gerontology and the Center for Research and Study of AgingUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  3. 3.Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences and Department of MusicBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  4. 4.School of Psychological Sciences and the Herczeg Institute on AgingTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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