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Negative old-age life events and well-being in later life: the moderating and mediating role of loneliness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2021

Lise Switsers*
Affiliation:
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Brussels, Belgium
Eva Dierckx
Affiliation:
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium Psychiatric Hospital Alexianen Zorggroep Tienen, Tienen, Belgium
Joan Domènech-Abella
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
Liesbeth De Donder
Affiliation:
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
Sarah Dury
Affiliation:
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: Lise Switsers, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Department of Educational Sciences (EDWE), Pleinlaan 2 - 1050Brussels, Belgium, Phone +32 2 629 26 74. Email: lise.switsers@vub.be.

Abstract

Objectives:

Although older adults often experience negative life events or loss experiences, they rarely experience large decreases in their quality of life or well-being. Emotionally satisfying relationships in older adults may serve as a protective factor that reduces the impact of negative events in decreasing well-being. The availability of these close social contacts is essential, and their potential for alleviating feelings of loneliness after negative events could have an important role in promoting well-being. The aim of this study was to test the hypothetical moderation and mediation effects of social and emotional loneliness on the occurrence of negative old-age life events and well-being in later life.

Design:

This was a cross-sectional survey conducted as part of the Detection, Support and Care for older people – Prevention and Empowerment research project (2015–2018).

Setting:

Participants were community-dwelling older adults in Flanders (Belgium).

Participants:

The sample composed of 770 participants aged 60 years and over.

Measurements:

Participant demographics, social and emotional loneliness, and subjective well-being were measured. Moderation and mediation analyses were performed using the regression-based approach as conducted by Hayes and Rockwood (2017).

Results:

Results indicated that a low degree of (social) loneliness is a protective, moderating factor and (emotional) loneliness is a mediating factor on the effects of negative life events on well-being in later life.

Conclusions:

Findings highlight the importance of emotionally and socially satisfying social contacts in order to maintain positive subjective well-being in later life when negative life events may occur.

Type
Original Research Article
Copyright
© International Psychogeriatric Association 2021

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