Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 20
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Amzat, Ismail Hussein and Jayawardena, Pamita 2016. Emotional Loneliness and Coping Strategies: A Reference to Older Malaysians at Nursing Homes. Journal of Population Ageing, Vol. 9, Issue. 3, p. 227.

    Gannon, Brittany N. and Stacciarini, Jeanne-Marie R. 2016. Review of the Literature: A Rural–Urban Comparison of Social Networks of Older Adults Living With HIV. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Vol. 27, Issue. 4, p. 419.

    NZABONA, ABEL NTOZI, JAMES and RUTAREMWA, GIDEON 2016. Loneliness among older persons in Uganda: examining social, economic and demographic risk factors. Ageing and Society, Vol. 36, Issue. 04, p. 860.

    Caputo, Andrea 2015. The Relationship Between Gratitude and Loneliness: The Potential Benefits of Gratitude for Promoting Social Bonds. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, Vol. 11, Issue. 2, p. 323.

    Kim, Soon Yi 2015. The effect of self-transcendence and loneliness on quality of life of the elderly. Journal of the Korea Academia-Industrial cooperation Society, Vol. 16, Issue. 10, p. 6679.

    KOREN, CHAYA 2015. The intertwining of second couplehood and old age. Ageing and Society, Vol. 35, Issue. 09, p. 1864.

    Kudo, Shogo Mutisya, Emmanuel and Nagao, Masafumi 2015. Population Aging: An Emerging Research Agenda for Sustainable Development. Social Sciences, Vol. 4, Issue. 4, p. 940.

    Lloyd-Sherlock, Peter Corso, Barbara and Minicuci, Nadia 2015. Widowhood, Socio-Economic Status, Health and Wellbeing in Low and Middle-Income Countries. The Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 51, Issue. 10, p. 1374.

    Burholt, V. and Scharf, T. 2014. Poor Health and Loneliness in Later Life: The Role of Depressive Symptoms, Social Resources, and Rural Environments. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Vol. 69, Issue. 2, p. 311.

    Dahlberg, Lena and McKee, Kevin J. 2014. Correlates of social and emotional loneliness in older people: evidence from an English community study. Aging & Mental Health, Vol. 18, Issue. 4, p. 504.

    Haris, Norfazlina Majid, Rogayah A. Abdullah, Natrah and Osman, Rozianawaty 2014. 2014 3rd International Conference on User Science and Engineering (i-USEr). p. 253.

    Meltzer, Howard Bebbington, Paul Dennis, Michael S. Jenkins, Rachel McManus, Sally and Brugha, Traolach S. 2013. Feelings of loneliness among adults with mental disorder. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Vol. 48, Issue. 1, p. 5.

    Burholt, Vanessa and Dobbs, Christine 2012. Research on rural ageing: Where have we got to and where are we going in Europe?. Journal of Rural Studies, Vol. 28, Issue. 4, p. 432.

    Crawley, Loretta and Lynch, Kathleen 2012. The Emotional Significance of Affective Inequalities and Why They Are Important to Women in Old Age. Journal of Women & Aging, Vol. 24, Issue. 4, p. 313.

    Hauge, Solveig and Kirkevold, Marit 2012. Variations in older persons’ descriptions of the burden of loneliness. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, Vol. 26, Issue. 3, p. 553.

    Naughton, Corina McGrath, Eimear Drennan, Jonathan Johnson, Felicity Lyons, Imogen Treacy, Pearl Fealy, Gerard and Butler, Michelle 2012. The profile and follow-up of patients who attend the Emergency Department following a fall. International Emergency Nursing, Vol. 20, Issue. 4, p. 243.

    Şar, Ali Haydar Göktürk, Gamze Yeşim Tura, Gülşah and Kazaz, Nalan 2012. Is the Internet Use an Effective Method to Cope With Elderly Loneliness and Decrease Loneliness Symptom?. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 55, p. 1053.

    Schnittger, Rebecca I.B. Wherton, Joseph Prendergast, David and Lawlor, Brian A. 2012. Risk factors and mediating pathways of loneliness and social support in community-dwelling older adults. Aging & Mental Health, Vol. 16, Issue. 3, p. 335.

    Dykstra, Pearl A. 2009. Older adult loneliness: myths and realities. European Journal of Ageing, Vol. 6, Issue. 2, p. 91.

    Paúl, Constança and Ribeiro, Oscar 2009. Predicting loneliness in old people living in the community. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, Vol. 19, Issue. 01, p. 53.


The experience of social and emotional loneliness among older people in Ireland

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2008

This paper reports a study of the risk factors for social and emotional loneliness among older people in Ireland. Using the ‘Social and Emotional Scale for Adults’, the social and emotional dimensions of loneliness were measured. Emotional loneliness was conceptualised as having elements of both family loneliness and romantic loneliness. The data were collected through a national telephone survey of loneliness in older people conducted in 2004 that completed interviews with 683 people aged 65 or more years. It was found that levels of social and family loneliness were low, but that romantic loneliness was relatively high. Predictors for social loneliness were identified as greater age, poorer health, living in a rural area, and lack of contact with friends. Living in a rural setting, gender (male), having a lower income, being widowed, no access to transport, infrequent contact with children and relatives and caring for a spouse or relative at home were significant predictors of family loneliness. Romantic loneliness was predicted by marital status, in particular being widowed. Never having married or being divorced or separated were also significant predictors for romantic loneliness. The findings indicate that loneliness for older people is variable, multi-dimensional and experienced differently according to life events, with, for example, the death of a partner being followed by the experience of emotional loneliness, or the loss of friends or declining health leading to social loneliness.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Jonathan Drennan, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

R. Allen and H. Oshagan 1995. The UCLA Loneliness Scale: invariance of social structural characteristics. Personality Individual Differences, 19, 2, 185–95.

K. Cramer and J. Barry 1999. Conceptualizations and measures of loneliness: a comparison of subscales. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 3, 491502.

E. DiTommaso and B. Spinner 1993. The development and initial validation of a measure of social and emotional loneliness (SELSA). Personality and Individual Differences, 14, 1, 127–34.

E. DiTommaso and B. Spinner 1997. Social and emotional loneliness: a re-examination of Weiss's typology of loneliness. Personality and Individual Differences, 22, 3, 417–27.

E. DiTommaso , C. Brannen and L. A. Best 2004. Measurement and validity characteristics of the short version of the social and emotional loneliness scale for adults. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 64, 1, 99119.

J. M. Ernst and J. T. Cacioppo 1999. Lonely hearts: psychological perspectives on loneliness. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 8, 1, 122.

A. Forbes 1996. Education and debate, caring for older people: loneliness. British Medical Journal, 313, 352–4.

K. Holmén , K. Ericsson , L. Andersson and B. Winblad 1992. Loneliness among elderly people living in Stockholm: a population study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 17, 1, 4351.

K. Holmén , K. Ericsson and B. Winblad 2000. Social and emotional loneliness among non-demented and demented elderly people. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 31, 3, 177–92.

K. Holmén and H. Furukawa 2002. Loneliness, health and social network among elderly people: a follow-up study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 35, 3, 261–74.

J. E. Johnson , M. Waldo and R. G. Johnson 1993. Research considerations: stress and perceived health status in the rural elderly. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 19, 10, 24–9.

E. O'Shea 2006. An economic and social evaluation of the Senior Helpline in Ireland. Ageing & Society, 26, 2, 267–84.

M. Pinquart and S. Sorensen 2001. Influences on loneliness in older adults: a meta-analysis. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 23, 4, 245–66.

A. Rokach , T. Orzeck , M. C. Moya and F. Expósito 2002. Causes of loneliness in North America and Spain. European Psychologist, 7, 1, 70–9.

M. C. Ryan and J. Patterson 1987. Loneliness in the elderly. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 13, 5, 611.

J. Scalise , E. Ginter and L. Gerstein 1984. A multidimensional loneliness measure: the Loneliness Rating Scale (LRS). Journal of Personality Assessment, 48, 5, 525–30.

N. Schmidt and V. Sermat 1983. Measuring loneliness in different relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 5, 1038–44.

M. A. R. Tijhuis , J. de Jong-Gierveld , E. J. M. Feskens and D. Kromhout 1999. Changes in and factors related to loneliness in older men: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Age and Ageing, 28, 5, 491–5.

J. Wang , M. Snyder and M. Kaas 2001. Stress, loneliness, and depression in Taiwanese rural community-dwelling elders. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 38, 3, 339–47.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *