S6.3 Aspects of loneliness in old age
Chair: Marie Ernsth Bravell
In many countries, there is a concern about loneliness in old age. Many believe that loneliness is particularly troublesome in old age and the situation is complicated as the prevalence of loneliness varies a lot depending measurement and sample. Loneliness in old age is associated with depression, reduced physical health and functional limitations. Prospectively loneliness show increased depressive symptomatology, impaired cognitive performance and increased risk for multiple disease outcomes. Loneliness also increase the risk for nursing home admittance and even mortality. In this symposium, we will show results from both qualitative and quantitative research. Bo Malmberg, Jönköping University, will present results on loneliness in different age groups 1983 to 2013 from a cross-sequential study of 20 to 80 years old. Marie Ernsth Bravell, Jönköping University, will together with colleagues from Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, present longitudinal data on risk factors of loneliness over a 23-year period. Axel Ågren, Linköping University, present a study examining the constructions of loneliness among older people in Swedish and Danish news-press. In another qualitative study, Elin Taube, Lund University, approach the experience of loneliness among frail older people. Finally, Galina Barysheva and Olga Nedopasova, Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia, will present a study of differences in expert assessments concerning problems of loneliness among older adults.
S6.3.2 Relations of loneliness, chronic disease risk, self-rated health, perceived impairment in activity and use of care among older people cross-sectional and longitudinal
Marie Ernsth Bravell1, Andrea D. Foebel2, Nancy L. Pedersen2
1Jönköping University, Sweden, 2 Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Introduction: Loneliness is not only an unwanted feeling but it may have consequences for health outcomes including chronic disease risk, self-rated health, perceived impairment in activity and use of care. This study examined how feelings of loneliness change over time and relate to health outcomes among older adults. Methods: This study included data spanning a 23-year period from Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging (SATSA) participants who were 55 years and older. Loneliness was measured by the question ‘How often do you experience feelings of loneliness’ and was dichotomized as never versus ever having feelings of loneliness. Outcomes of interest included number of chronic diseases, self-rated health, perceived impairment in activities and receipt of care. Generalized linear models were used to characterize changes in loneliness over time and 2 cross-sectional multivariate logistic regression models explored the relationship between loneliness and the outcomes. Results: Nearly half of respondents (45,8%) never felt lonely at baseline. At follow-up, significantly more persons experienced feelings of loneliness. At baseline, feelings of loneliness were related to chronic diseases, self-rated health, and perceived impairment in activity. Loneliness at follow-up was related to self-rated health and perceived impairment in activity.Conclusion: oneliness increased over time and demonstrated complex relations to the outcomes.
S6.3.3 Constructions of loneliness among older people in Swedish and Danish news-press
Linköpings University, Sweden
Sweden and Denmark are commonly described as “welfare models” with universal coverage facilitated by high taxation. Despite this, loneliness among older people is often depicted as a widespread phenomenon in both countries and the issue is intensely debated within news-press in both countries. Mass media has a substantial impact on how loneliness and older people are constructed and perceived. Constructions which has an influence on how older people understand and evaluate their own life situation and how older people are treated in society. Peplau and Perlman (1981) emphasize that societal contexts and norms has a significant role in shaping our understandings of loneliness. Studying these two countries is of particular interest as these countries, internationally, are perceived as similar, mainly regarding the organization of their welfare institutions. This study will, thus, acknowledge the complexities and variations which prevail even within societal contexts, which are understood as similar, in many respects. This study will, in sum, mainly address how loneliness among older is constructed and what similarities or differences exists regarding within Swedish and Danish news-press?
S6.3.4 Being in a Bubble: the experience of loneliness among frail older people
Frail older people may face challenges related to both loneliness and frailty as well as an interaction between these two factors. Insight regarding the experience of loneliness is useful for providing appropriate support. Frail older people (65+ years) who lived at home and had experienced various levels in intensity of loneliness were selected from an interventional study (N=12). Semi-structured interviews were performed and a qualitative content analysis design was applied. Results: An overall heme, Being in a Bubble, illustrates the experience of living in an ongoing world but being excluded because of social surroundings and the impossibility to regain losses. The theme Barriers was interpreted as the experience of facing physical, psychological and social barriers for overcoming losses. The experience of not succeeding in overcoming barriers resulted in the theme Hopelessness, revealing that loneliness was experienced as a constant state with no hope for cure. However, loneliness was also experienced as a positive co-existing state that offered independence, resulting in the theme Freedom. To enhance well-being it is suggested that future strategies should target the older persons' individual barriers and promote the positive co-existing dimension of loneliness.
S6.3.4 Problem of loneliness among older adults: Differences in expert assessment
Galina Barysheva, Olga P. Nedospasova
National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia
Loneliness is one of the fundamental characteristics of human existence and in such existential meaning is a universal problem that has been debated by philosophers since the very appearance of philosophy. However, the current situation with the loneliness of the older adults is connected not only with the deep feelings of the separation of the «self» and with the "world", but more so, it is the result of socio-economic processes that take place in a post-industrial society. Two expert-scientific seminars on the theme "The problem of loneliness of the older adults" has been carried out. The first seminar involved older people while the second focused on the participation of social workers involved in the issue. The aim of the seminars was to determine recommendations to prevent and mitigate negative impact of loneliness on the social, economic and emotional well-being of older people. The two groups of experts identified the main factors and the degree of severity (stability) of loneliness of older adults. They determined the degree of satisfaction of the elderly with the intensity and quality of their social interactions. The experts also identified areas of social policy more determined by the level of social interactions. Together with Wellbeing Lab staff, recommendations on reducing the negative impact of loneliness on the social and economic well-being of older people were formulated.