The links between social support and mental health are now well-established but less is known about specific dimensions of social support and social networks. A Europe-wide study of 15,469 people over the age of 50 looked into how their children affected older people's mental health. The study found that childless men and women had more depressive symptoms and that fewer contacts with children was associated with an increased number of depressive symptoms. Older men and women living with a spouse or partner had the lowest levels of depression and the presence of a spouse or partner was more relevant for the mental health of older people than the presence of, or contact with, their children.
Buber, Isabella, Engelhardt, Henriette - Children's impact on the mental health of their older mothers and fathers: findings from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe European Journal of Ageing, 2008, 5, 31-45