Retrospective memories of parental care and health from mid- to late life.

Objective: Perceptions of early caregiving experiences are hypothesized to be influential across the life span. However, previous research testing this hypothesis focuses primarily on young adults and use mostly cross-sectional designs. The current study examined associations between memories of early caregiving experiences and trajectories of depressive symptoms and physical health in 2 large samples of middle-aged and older adults. Method: Sample 1 consisted of participants from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (n = 7,108) followed for 18 years (from 1995/1996 until 2013/2014). Sample 2 consisted of participants from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 15,234) followed over a 6-year period. Memories of caregiver support before age 18 were retrospectively assessed in middle and older adulthood; associations between these memories and changes in self-rated health, chronic health conditions, and depressive symptoms over time were examined. Results: Memories of higher parental affection in early childhood were associated with better self-rated health and lower depressive symptoms over intervals of approximately 6 and 18 years, in both samples; the results for chronic health conditions was more mixed. These associations persisted over time and were not moderated by time. Conclusion: Associations between perceptions of caregiver support and health persisted over time, underscoring the importance of memories of close relationships for health and depressive symptoms across the life span, even into late life. Findings are discussed in relation to models that link perceptions of early life experiences to later life outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)