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Living arrangements and loneliness of South Asian immigrant seniors in Edmonton, Canada

  • CHEUK FAN NG (a1) and HERBERT C. NORTHCOTT (a2)

Abstract

This paper examines the relationships between self-reported loneliness and living arrangements. A structured questionnaire with some open-ended questions was administered face-to-face in English, Hindi or Punjabi to a sample of 161 elderly South Asian immigrants 60 or more years of age living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 2003. The majority of respondents said that they never felt lonely. More than one in three (37.3%) respondents indicated that they felt lonely occasionally, frequently or all of the time. Those living alone were significantly more likely to report feeling lonely at least occasionally than were those living with others, especially those living with their spouse in an extended family. The fact that South Asian immigrant seniors typically lived with others, often in an extended family with or without their spouse, and rarely lived alone protected them to some extent from loneliness. However, our findings showed that among those living with others, it was the amount of waking time spent alone at home and the quality of family relationships rather than living arrangement per se that significantly predicted self-reported loneliness. Nevertheless, living in a larger household was associated with spending less time alone. We discuss plausible influences of culture on expectations regarding family and social relationships and on the meaning of being alone, as well as practical implications for addressing loneliness in a multi-cultural society.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Cheuk Fan Ng, Psychology, Centre for Social Sciences, Athabasca University, Athabasca, AB T9S 3A3, Canada E-mail: cheukn@athabascau.ca

References

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