A high sense of belonging to the community and physical activity are associated with improved mental health in older people. The present study tested a model incorporating physical activities performed alone and with others as predictors of sense of belonging, depression and suicide ideation. One hundred and ninety four retired adults (87 males, 107 females, mean age 68 years) completed the Yale Physical Activity Survey, the Sense of Belonging Instrument, the Suicide Subscale of the General Health Questionnaire and the Zung Depression Inventory. Within the context of the model, neither participating in physical activities alone, nor with at least one other person, predicted sense of belonging, depression or suicide ideation. Having the abilities and motivation to belong was a predictor of participating in physical activities with others and actual feelings of belonging and contributed to predicting mental health in retirees. It was concluded that simply performing activities with others was not associated with a sense of belonging or mental health. Rather, sense of belonging may need to be facilitated in order for mental health to be enhanced.
Objectives: Higher levels of depression have been documented among older adults who reside in an assisted living facility, compared with those who remain in their own homes. The aims of the current study were to test whether the relationship between housing type and depressive symptoms was mediated by a sense of belonging and whether housing type and sense of belonging interact to influence the depressive symptoms among older adults (moderation model).Method: A sample of 257 older adults who lived in their own homes and 166 older adults who lived in an assisted living facility completed the psychological subscale of the Sense of Belonging Instrument and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.Results: Results showed that a sense of belonging partially mediated the relationship between housing type and depressive symptoms, such that living in a nursing home was associated with lower levels of belonging, and lower levels of belonging were, in turn, associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. Residing in an assisted living facility was associated with depressive symptoms at low and average levels of belonging.Conclusion: Results highlight the need for more research on the role of sense of belonging as an influencing factor on depressive symptoms among institutionalised older adults for both theoretical and treatment goals.