ERIC Number: ED333261
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Loneliness and Solitude in Late Late Life.
Barer, Barbara M.; Johnson, Colleen L.
In American society, being alone is confounded with the concept of loneliness which has a negative image suggesting deficits in an individual's life situation. It is possible, however, that with advancing age the need for sociability decreases. This study examined the issues of loneliness and being alone among a sample of 150 older adults. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Respondents answered open-ended questions about their satisfaction with their social life and discussed relations with various family members to reveal their level of social integration and supports received. Respondents noted issues that were of concern to them and described stresses they had experienced. The Bradburn Affect Balance scale was administered as a measure of loneliness. The findings revealed that 79% of the respondents were unmarried and 58% lived alone. Almost two-thirds were widowed; of those who had children, almost one-third had lost a child; and less than one-half had a surviving sibling. Despite the fact that 70% had some functional impairment that limited their mobility, few complained of being lonely. On a four-point scale, 54% reported never feeling lonely, 10% rarely experienced loneliness, 24% reported some loneliness, and only 12% reported frequent feelings of loneliness. The findings suggest that the respondents attach their own meaning to being alone, and experience solitude rather than loneliness. (NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. on Aging (DHHS/NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (43rd, Boston, MA, November 16-20, 1990).