Changes in social relations in old age. Are they influenced by functional ability?

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  • Kirsten Avlund
  • Pernille Due
  • Bjørn Evald Holstein
  • Riitta-Liisa Heikkinen
  • Stig Berg
The aims of this article were to describe changes in social relations from ages 75 to 80, and analyze whether changes in social relations are influenced by functional ability at age 75. The study includes data from the NORA follow-up study of 75-80 year-old men and women in Jyväskylä (Finland), Göteborg (Sweden) and Glostrup (Denmark). The present analyses include the 743 persons who participated in both studies and who answered the questions about social relations. The structure of social relations was measured by: 1) frequency of contacts with children, grand/greatgrandchildren, relatives, close friends, acquaintances, and neighbors; 2) diversity of social relations (number of types of social contacts); 3) telephone contacts; and 4) social participation. The function of social relations was measured by instrumental social support. Functional ability was measured by tiredness and need for help in Physical Activities of Daily Living (PADL). Depressive symptoms, living alone and locality were included as covariates in the multivariate analyses. There were large changes in social relations in old age, but the changes included widely varying patterns of losses and gains among the participants. Women who felt tired in their daily activities had more sustained little contact with children [OR=4.2 (1.4-12.1)] and more sustained little diversity in social relations [OR=2.2 (0.95-5.3)]. Both men and women in need of help had more sustained little diversity in social relations compared to the well-functioning persons [men: OR=4.4 (1.3-15.0); women: OR=3.0 (0.93-9.6)].
Original languageEnglish
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3 Suppl
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Activities of Daily Living; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Aging; Female; Humans; Interpersonal Relations; Male

ID: 6109522