Date of Award

Summer 2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PhD Counseling Psychology

Department

Professional Psychology and Family Therapy

Advisor

Pamela Foley, Ph.D

Committee Member

John E. Smith, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Margaret Brady-Amoon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brian Cole, Ph.D.

Keywords

older adults, positive neuropsychology, counseling psychology, hope, executive function, depression

Abstract

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, by 2030, the population of individuals 65 years of age or older is expected to be close to 70 million people, or 20% of the country’s population. This creates a substantial demand as well as opportunity for prevention on medical and health care providers, because individuals in this population are at an increased risk of significant changes in cognitive and mental health. Decline in executive functioning skills is one of the most prevalent changes to affect older adults. Furthermore, depression is strongly associated with impairment in executive functioning, and both have a significant impact on daily living skills. However, research suggests that hope may moderate the effects of declining executive function and depression in older adults. Therefore, providing research that is grounded within a positive neuropsychological framework, will be significant to this population because it may provide evidence for a protecting mechanism against age related emotional distress and cognitive decline. The primary aim of the study was to examine the relationship between executive function and depression within a positive neuropsychological framework. Secondly, the study proposed that hope would serve as a moderating variable between these variables. Overall, this study found evidence that hope is strongly related to executive functioning and depression, such that hope may in fact act as a buffer against depression when an individual is facing deficits in executive functioning. These findings provide support for the continued study and application of counseling and positive psychology to the field of neuropsychology. This study also further provided support for increased need for the treatment of the aging population through a positive neuropsychological framework.

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