Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Loneliness among older persons in Uganda: examining social, economic and demographic risk factors

  • ABEL NZABONA (a1), JAMES NTOZI (a1) and GIDEON RUTAREMWA (a1)

Abstract

Later-life loneliness is becoming an area of great concern in Uganda in light of gradual weakening of extended family as a source of old-age human support. Although information about the effects of feeling lonely exists, little is known about the associated risk factors within the country's social and cultural setting. This paper discusses prevalence and correlates of feeling lonely among older persons. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on 605 older persons in a 2012 cross-sectional study. Respondents were asked to evaluate how they felt in terms of loneliness during the administration of the questionnaire. A total of ten focus group discussions and 12 key informant interviews were also conducted to collect qualitative data. Binary logistic regression was used to predict factors affecting loneliness. Findings indicate that approximately seven in ten older persons felt lonely. Elderly people residing in the urban area were more likely to be lonely than their counterparts staying in the rural environment. In comparison with married older persons, elderly people who were widowed were more likely to be lonely. Absence of a television and pension benefits and prevalence of limb joint ill-health predicted loneliness. The findings have several implications, including developing age-friendly urban centres, encouraging old-age social organisations, decentralising the elderly health-care system and establishing a special old-age fund.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Abel Nzabona, Population Studies, Makerere University, Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda E-mail: abel.nzabona@gmail.com

References

Hide All
Beck, A. M. and Katcher, A. H. 1996. Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Caldwell, J. C. and Caldwell, P. 1987. The cultural context of high fertility in sub-Saharan Africa. Population and Development Review, 13, 3, 409–37.
Clausen, T., Wilson, A. O., Molebatsi, R. M. and Holmboe-Ottesen, G. 2007. Diminished mental and physical function and lack of social support are associated with shorter survival in community dwelling older persons of Botswana. BMC Public Health, 7, 1, 144.
Coe, N. B. and Zamarro, G. 2011. Retirement effects on health in Europe. Journal of Health Economics, 30, 1, 7786.
Cohen-Mansfield, J. and Parpura-Gill, A. 2007. Loneliness in older persons: a theoretical model and empirical findings. International Psychogeriatrics, 19, 2, 279–94.
Davis, M. H. and Kraus, L. A. 1989. Social contact, loneliness, and mass media use: a test of two hypotheses. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 19, 13, 1100–24.
Drennan, J., Treacy, M., Butler, M., Byrne, A., Fealy, G., Frazer, K. and Irving, K. 2008. The experience of social and emotional loneliness among older people in Ireland. Ageing & Society, 28, 8, 1113–32.
Economic Commission for Africa 2007. The state of older people in Africa. Unpublished report, Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa.
El-Mansoury, T. M., Taal, E., Abdel-Nasser, A. M., Riemsma, R. P., Mahfouz, R., Mahmoud, J. A. and Rasker, J. J. 2008. Loneliness among women with rheumatoid arthritis: a cross-cultural study in the Netherlands and Egypt. Clinical Rheumatology, 27, 9, 1109–18.
Fischer, C. S. 1975. Toward a subcultural theory of urbanism. American Journal of Sociology, 80, 6, 1319–41.
Friedmann, E. and Son, H. 2009. The human–companion animal bond: how humans benefit. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 39, 2, 293326.
Hacihasanoglu, R., Yildirim, A. and Karakurt, P. 2011. Loneliness in elderly individuals, level of dependence in activities of daily living (ADL) and influential factors. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 54, 1, 61–6.
Hazer, O. and Boylu, A. A. 2010. The examination of the factors affecting the feeling of loneliness of the elderly. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 2010, 2083–9.
Holmén, K. and Furukawa, H. 2002. Loneliness, health and social network among elderly people – a follow-up study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 35, 3, 261–74.
Jones, D. A., Victor, C. R. and Vetter, N. J. 1985. The problem of loneliness in the elderly in the community: characteristics of those who are lonely and the factors related to loneliness. Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 35, 272, 136–9.
Kish, L. 1965. Survey Sampling. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Kpedekpo, G. M. K. 1982. Essentials of Demographic Analysis for Africa. Heinemann, London.
Mapoma, C. C. and Masaiti, G. 2012. Social isolation and aging in Zambia: examining the possible predictors. Journal of Aging Research, 16. Available on line at http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jar/2012/537467/ [Accessed 5 February 2015].
Markowitz, T. M., Dally, M. R., Gursky, K. and Price, E. O. 1998. Early handling increases lamb affinity for humans. Animal Behaviour, 55, 3, 573–87.
Martin, P., Hagberg, B. and Poon, L. W. 1997. Predictors of loneliness in centenarians: a parallel study. Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology, 12, 3, 203–24.
McMunn, A., Nazroo, J., Wahrendorf, M., Breeze, E. and Zaninotto, P. 2009. Participation in socially-productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: baseline results in England. Ageing & Society, 29, 5, 765–82.
Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) 2009. National Policy for Older Persons. MoGLSD, Kampala.
Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) 2012. National Plan of Action for Older Persons, Republic of Uganda 2012/13–2016/17. MoGLSD, Kampala.
Nahemow, N. 1979. Residence, kinship and social isolation among the aged Baganda. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41, 1, 171–83.
Ntozi, J. P. M. and Kabera, J. B. 1991. Family planning in rural Uganda: knowledge and use of modern and traditional methods in Ankole. Studies in Family Planning, 22, 2, 116–23.
Ntozi, J. P. M. and Nakayiwa, S. 1999. AIDS in Uganda: how has the household coped with the epidemic? The Continuing African HIV/AIDS Epidemic, 155–81. Available online at http://htc.anu.edu.au/pdfs/ContinuingHIV/Ntozi_Naka.pdf [Accessed 6 January 2015].
Oppong, C. 2006. Familial roles and social transformations: older men and women in sub Saharan Africa. Research on Ageing, 28, 6, 654–68.
Patton, M. Q. 2002. Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.
Penninx, B. W. J. H., Van Tilburg, T., Kriegsman, D. M. W., Boeke, A. J. P., Deeg, D. J. H. and van Eijk, J. T. M. 1999. Social network, social support, and loneliness in older persons with different chronic diseases. Journal of Aging and Health, 11, 2, 151–68.
Peplau, L. A. and Perlman, D. 1982. Loneliness: A Sourcebook of Current Theory, Research and Therapy. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Ranjit, K. 2005. Research Methodology. Second edition, Pearson Education, New Delhi.
Raussi, S. 2003. Human–cattle interactions in group housing. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 80, 3, 245–62.
Roos, V. and Klopper, H. 2010. Older persons’ experiences of loneliness: a South African perspective. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 20, 2, 281–9.
Russell, D. 2009. Living arrangements, social integration, and loneliness in later life: the case of physical disability. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50, 4, 460–75.
Savikko, N., Routasalo, P., Tilvis, R. S., Strandberg, T. E. and Pitkälä, K. H. 2005. Predictors and subjective causes of loneliness in an aged population. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 41, 3, 223–33.
Scholten, F., Mugisha, J., Seeley, J., Kinyanda, E., Nakubukwa, S., Kowal, P. and Boerma, T. 2011. Health and functional status among older people with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. BMC Public Health, 11, 1, 110.
Singh, S. and Samara, R. 1996. Early marriage among women in developing countries. International Family Planning Perspectives, 22, 4, 148–75.
Ssengonzi, R. 2007. The plight of older persons as caregivers to people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS: evidence from Uganda. Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology, 22, 4, 339–53.
Taylor-Powell, E. and Renner, M. 2003. Analyzing Qualitative Data. University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension, Madison, Wisconsin.
Theeke, L. A. 2009. Predictors of loneliness in US adults over age sixty-five. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 23, 5, 387–96.
Tilvis, R. S., Routasalo, P., Karppinen, H., Strandberg, T. E., Kautiainen, H. and Pitkälä, K. H. 2011. Social isolation, social activity and loneliness as survival indicators in old age; a nationwide survey with a 7-year follow up. European Geriatric Medicine, 3, 1, 1822.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2005. The 2002 Uganda Population and Housing Census Report – Main Report. UBOS, Kampala.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2006. The 2005 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey Report. UBOS, Kampala.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2012. Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, 2011. UBOS, Kampala.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2014. Uganda National Household Survey, 2011. UBOS, Kampala.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) 2007. World Population Ageing. UNDESA, New York.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2013. Human Development Report, 2013. The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. UNDP, New York.
United Nations Fund for Population Activities and Help Age International (UNFPA and HAI) 2012. Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge. UNFPA and HAI, New York.
Van Der Geest, S. 2004. ‘They don't come to listen’: the experience of loneliness among older people in Kwahu, Ghana. Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology, 19, 2, 7796.
Victor, C. R., Scambler, S. J., Bowling, A. and Bond, J. 2005. The prevalence of, and risk factors for, loneliness in later life: a survey of older people in Great Britain. Ageing & Society, 25, 6, 357–75.
Victor, C., Scambler, S., Bond, J. and Bowling, A. 2000. Being alone in later life: loneliness, social isolation and living alone. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 10, 4, 407–17.
Victor, C. R., Scambler, S. J., Marston, L., Bond, J. and Bowling, A. 2006. Older people's experiences of loneliness in the UK: does gender matter? Social Policy and Society, 5, 1, 2738.
Waweru, L. M., Kabiru, E. W., Mbithi, J. N. and Some, E. S. 2003. Health status and health seeking behaviour of the elderly persons in Dagoretti division, Nairobi. East African Medical Journal, 80, 2, 63–7.
Wurzinger, M., Ndumu, D., Okeyo, M. and Solkner, J. 2008. Life style and herding practices of Bahima pastoralists in Uganda. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 3, 8, 542–8.
Zainal, N. R., Kaur, G., Ahmad, N. A and Khalili, J. M. 2012. Housing conditions and quality of life of the urban poor in Malaysia. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 50, 2012, 827–38.
Zasloff, R. L. and Kidd, A. H. 1994. Loneliness and pet ownership among single women. Psychological Reports, 75, 2, 747–52.

Keywords

Loneliness among older persons in Uganda: examining social, economic and demographic risk factors

  • ABEL NZABONA (a1), JAMES NTOZI (a1) and GIDEON RUTAREMWA (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.