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Always alone? Network transitions among detached older Europeans and their effects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2020

Howard Litwin
Affiliation:
Israel Gerontological Data Center, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Michal Levinsky*
Affiliation:
Israel Gerontological Data Center, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
*
*Corresponding author. Email: Michal.levinsky@mail.huji.ac.il

Abstract

The present study investigated the changes that occurred within the interpersonal environments of a sample of socially isolated older Europeans after four years. Based upon data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), the inquiry looked at 834 older people who were socially detached at baseline, at follow-up or at both time-points. The analysis traced changes in relation to the social network types that they acquired or left. The findings indicate that respondents more frequently moved from no-network status at baseline to close family-based social network types at follow-up than to other network types. In comparison, the loss of a network at follow-up was seen to originate from close networks and from other network types alike. Multivariate analysis revealed that those who moved from socially detached status to close-family networks had fewer depressive symptoms compared to those who moved to other network types. However, the move from a close-family network to the no-network status was about as depressing as was being chronically isolated. The effects of network transitions were more varied in relation to the life satisfaction outcome. In sum, the findings suggest that a transition out of social isolation in late life is possible and it may be beneficial as well.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press.

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