ERIC Number: ED334520
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Aug
Social Networks and Loneliness in Older Adults.
Golden-Kreutz, Deanna M.; And Others
The long-term care of dementia sufferers has been conceptualized as a chronic stressor because of the growing evidence that the stress of caring for such an individual has adverse effects on caregivers, including significant decrements in social/recreational activities, emotional and physical fatigue, and depressive symptomatology. Because of caregiving responsibilities, caregivers, compared with others, may have less time for socializing and decreased frequency of contact with others. This study examined the role of social networks in the psychological health of older adults. Subjects were 50 spousal caregivers for suspected or diagnosed progressive dementia sufferers, and 50 sex, age, and education matched comparison subjects. All were participating in a longitudinal study of chronic stress and health. Although there were no significant differences in the social networks of the stressed versus the non-stressed groups, the former was lonelier than the latter, even after controlling for depression. However, there were no differences between the two groups in the number of contacts comprising their social networks. This finding may reflect the fact that stressed people often test the limits of their social networks. The effects of a dense, fatigued, or distressed social network, therefore, would not necessarily affect a stressed person's number of contacts, but rather the quality of those contacts. (LLL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (98th, Boston, MA, August 10-14, 1990).