Yeonjung Lee has completed her BA in Social Welfare from University of California, Berkeley in 2011 and MA in Social Welfare from Seoul National University in 2014. Currently, she is a second year doctoral student at Boston University School of Social Work. [email protected] / [email protected]


Current study examines how functional limitations are related to mental health represented by both depression and anxiety among a sample of the young-old and old-old persons with disabilities in South Korea. The moderating effect of age on the relationship between functional limitation and mental health among the older adults were also examined. Survey responses from a total of 491 older Koreans with disabilities who are age 65 or over were collected from the National Pension Panel in 2009. Multiple regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses. The findings of this study are presented as the following: First, consistent with the previous study, the current study shows that functional limitations (ADLs and IADLs) have a positive association with depressive and anxiety symptoms. Second, there is a significant moderating effect of age; it is surprising that the old-old persons with high functional limitations are less depressed and less anxious than their younger counterparts. In spite of the aging process, older age had a buffering effect on the relationship between functional limitations and mental health. The present study suggests the need to concentrate on the interrelationship between physical and mental health to promote older adult’s healthy later life. Moreover, the significant moderating effect of age provides insights on developing a health age index (considering both their physical age as well as their chronological age) every decade expecting the cohort effects.

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