Social Capital and Health in the Oldest Old

Main Article Content

Fredrica Nyqvist
Janna Gustavsson
Yngve Gustafsson

Abstract

The aim of this study was to measure social capital in the oldest old, and its association with different dimensions of health. The Umeå 85+ study is a cross-sectional study of 253 people, aged 85 years, 90 years and 95 years or older. A principal component factor analysis was performed to assess classes of information measuring the structural and the cognitive components of social capital on an individual level. In the final model, one factor consisting of attachment, social integration and social network emerged which accounted for 55 per cent of the total variance. We analysed the association between structural social capital and various dimensions of health such as depressive symptoms, functional ability and self-rated health. This study suggests that structural social capital may partially explain depressive symptoms but not functional ability or self-rated health. We conclude that social capital is a relevant resource for the oldest old, but we suggest a different approach when measuring social capital in this age group, such as conducting a longitudinal study or including retrospective questions in the study. The oldest old may have had a high level of social capital, but our study could not identify this statistically.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

Section
Articles

References

Arber, S. & Ginn, J. (1993). Gender and inequalities in health, Social Science & Medicine 36: 33–46. [Read this article]


Berkman, L. F. & Syme, S. L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: a nine-year follow-up study of Alameda County residents, American Journal of Epidemiology 109: 186–204.


Berkman, L. F., Berkman, C. S., Karl, S., Freeman, D. H., Leo, L., Ostfeld, A. M., Cornoni-Huntley, J. & Brody, J. A. (1986). Depressive symptoms in relation to physical health and functioning in the elderly, American Journal of Epidemiology 124: 372–388.


Bowling, A. (1994). Social networks and social support among older people and implications for emotional well-being and psychiatric morbidity, International Review of Psychiatry 6: 41–77. [Read this article]


Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (pp 241–248). New York: Greenwood.


Bukov, A., Maas I. & Lampert, T. (2002). Social participation in very old age: cross-sectional and longitudinal findings from BASE, Journal of Gerontology 57B: P510–517.


Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural Holes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


Burt, R. S. (2001). Structural holes versus network closure as social capital. In N. Lin, K. Cook & R.S. Burt (eds.), Social Capital Theory and Research (pp 31–56). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.


Cannuscio, C., Block, J. & Kawachi, I. (2003). Social capital and successful aging: the role of senior housing, Annals of Internal Medicine 139: 395–400.


Cattell, V. & Herring, R. (2002). Social capital, generations and health in East London. In C. Swann & A. Morgan (eds.), Social Capital for Health: Insights form Qualitative Research (pp 62–85). London: Health Development Agent.


Coleman, J. D. (1990). Foundation of Social Theory. Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.


Cutrona, C. E. & Russell, D. (1987). The provisions of social relationships and adaptation to stress. In W. H. Jones & D. Perlman (eds.), Advances in Personal Relationships (pp 37–67). Greenwich, Conn: JAI Press.


Dean, A., Kolody, B. & Wood, P. (1990). Effects of social support form various sources on depression in elderly persons, Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 31: 148–161. [Read this article]


Folstein, M. F., Folstein, S. E. & McHugh, P. R. (1975). Mini-Mental State. A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician, Journal of Psychiatric Research 12: 189–198. [Read this article]


Fratiglioni, L., Wang, H.X., Ericsson, K., Maytan, M. & Winblad, B. (2000). Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: a communitybased longitudinal study, The Lancet 355: 1315–1319. [Read this article]


Fukuyama, F. (1999). The Great Disruption. Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order. London: Profile Books.


Glass, T. A., Mendes de Leon, C. F., Seeman, T. E. & Berkman, L .F. (1997). Beyond single indicators of social networks: a LISREL analysis of social ties among the elderly, Social Science and Medicine 44: 1503–1517. [Read this article]


Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of the weak ties, American Journal of Sociology 78: 1360–1380. [Read this article]


Grundy, E. & Sloggett, A. (2003). Health inequalities in the older population: the role of personal capital, social resources and socio-economic circumstances, Social Science & Medicine 56: 935–947. [Read this article]


Grundy, E., Bowling, A. & Farquhar, M. (1996). Social support, life satisfaction and survival at older ages. In G. Casell & A. D. Lopez (eds.), Health and Mortality among Elderly Population (pp 135–156). Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Harris, T., Kovar, M. G., Suzman, R., Kleinman, J. C. & Feldman, J. J. (1989). Longitudinal study of physical ability in the oldest old, American Journal of Public Health 79: 698–702.


Hawe, P. & Shiell, A. (2000). Social capital and health promotion: a review, Social Science & Medicine 51: 871–885. [Read this article]


Hyyppä, M. T. & Mäki, J. (2001). Individual-level relationships between social capital and self-rated health in bilingual community, Preventive Medicine 32: 148–155. [Read this article]


Johnson, R. J. & Wolinsky, F. D. (1993). The structure of health status among older adults: disease, disability, functional limitations, and perceived health, Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 34: 105–121. [Read this article]


Kaplan, G. A., Seeman, T E., Cohen, R. D., Knudsen, L. P. & Guralnik, J. (1987). Mortality among the elderly in the Alameda County study: behavioural and demographic risk factors, American Journal of Public Health 77: 307–312.


Katz, S., Ford, A. B., Moskowitz, R .W., Jackson, B. A. & Jaffe, M. W. (1963). Studies of illness in the aged. The index of ADL: a standardized measure of biological and psychosocial function, Journal of the American Medical Association 185: 914–919.


Kawachi, I. & Berkman, L.F. (2000). Social cohesion, social capital, and health. In L. F. Berkman & I. Kawachi (eds.), Social Epidemiology (pp 174–190). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B., Lochner, K. & Prothrow-Smith, D. (1997). Social capital, income inequality, and mortality, American Journal of Public Health 87: 1491–1498.


Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B. P. & Glass, R. (1999). Social capital and selfrated health: a contextual analysis, American Journal of Public Health 89: 1187–1193.


Kennelly, B., O’Shea, E. & Garvey, E. (2003). Social capital, life expectancy and mortality: a cross-national examination, Social Science & Medicine 56: 2367–2377. [Read this article]


Kessler, R. C., Foster, C., Webster, P. S. & House, J. S. (1992). The relationship between age and depressive symptoms in two national surveys, Psychology and Aging 7: 119–126. [Read this article]


Leinonen, R., Heikkinen, E. & Jylhä, M. (2001). Predictors of decline in self-assessments of health among older people – a 5-year longitudinal study, Social Science & Medicine 52: 1329–1341. [Read this article]


Lin, N. (1999). Building a network theory of social capital, Connections 22: 28–51.


Lindström M. (2004). Social capital, the miniaturisation of community and self-reported global and psychological health, Social Science & Medicine 59: 595–607. [Read this article]


Luhmann, N. (1979). Trust and Power. Chichester: Wiley.


Lundberg, O. & Manderbacka, K. (1996). Assessing reliability of a measure of self-rated health, Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine 24: 218–24.


Macinko, J. & Starfield, B. (2001). The utility of social capital in research on health determinants, The Milbank Quarterly 79: 387–427. [Read this article]


Manderbacka, K. (1998). Questions on Survey Questions on Health. Swedish Institute for Social Research, 30. Edsbruk: Akademitryck AB.


Martelin, T., Koskinen, S. & Valkonen, T. (1998). Sociodemographic mortality differences among the oldest old in Finland, Journal of Gerontology 53B: S83–90.


McCulloch, A. (2001). Social environments and health: cross sectional national survey, British Medical Journal, 323: 208–209. [Read this article]


Mechanic, D. & Meyer, S. (2000). Concepts of trust among patients with serious illness, Social Science & Medicine 51: 657–668. [Read this article]


Mendes de Leon, C. F., Gold, D. T., Glass T. A., Kaplan, L. & George, L. K. (2001). Disability as a function of social networks and support in elderly African Americans and Whites. The Duke EPESE 1986–1992, Journal of Gerontology 56B: S179–190.


Ormel, J., Rijsdijk, V., Sullivan, M., van Sonderen, E. & Kempen, G. I. J. M. (2002). Temporal and reciprocal relationship between IADL/ADL disability and depressive symptoms in late life, Journal of Gerontology 57B: P338–347.


Pollack, C. E. & von dem Knesebeck, O. (2004). Social capital and health among the aged: comparisons between the United States and Germany, Health & Place 10(4): 383–391. [Read this article]


Putnam, R .D. (2000). Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making Democracy Work. Civic Tradition in Modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Päivärinta, A., Verkkoniemi, A., Niinistö, L., Kivelä, S-L. & Sulkava, R. (1999). The prevalence and associates of depressive disorders in the oldest old Finns, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 34(7): 352–359. [Read this article]


Rose, R. (2000). How much social capital add to individual health? A survey study of Russians, Social Science & Medicine 51: 1421–1453. [Read this article]


Sampson, R. J. & Raudenbush, S. W. (1997). Neighbourhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy, Science 5328: 918–925. [Read this article]


Seligman, A. (1997). The Problem of Trust. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Sheikh, J. & Yesavage, J. (1986). Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS): recent evidence and development of a shorter version, Clinical Gerontology 5: 165–172.


Strain, L. A., Grabusic, C .C., Searle, M. S. & Dunn, N. J. (2002). Continuing and ceasing leisure activities in later life: a longitudinal study, The Gerontologist 42: 217–223.


Smith, J., Borchelt, M., Maier, H. & Jopp, D. (2002). Health and well-being in the young old and oldest old, Journal of Social Issues 58: 715–732. [Read this article]


Sonn, U. & Hulter Åsberg, K. (1991). Assessment of activities of daily living in the elderly: a study of a population of 76-year-olds in Gothenburg, Sweden, Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitating Medicine 23: 193–202.


Stone, W. (2001). Measuring Social Capital. Towards a Theoretically Informed Measurement Framework for Researching Social Capital in Family and Community life. Research paper no. 24. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.


Unger, J. B., McAvay, G., Bruce, M. L., Berkman, L. & Seeman, T. (1999). Variation in the impact of social network characteristics on physical functioning in elderly persons. MacArthur studies of successful ageing, Journal of Gerontology 54B: S245–251.


Uslaner, E. (2002). The Moral Foundation of Trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Veenstra, G. (2000). Social capital, SES and health: an individual-level analysis, Social Science & Medicin, 50: 619–629. [Read this article]


Veenstra, G. (2005). Location, location, location: contextual and compositional health effects of social capital in British Colombia, Canada, Social Science & Medicine 60: 2059–2071. [Read this article]


von Heideken Wågert, P., Gustavsson J., Lundin-Olsson, L., Kallin, K., Nygren, B., Lundman, B., Norberg, A. & Gustafson, Y. (2006). Health status in the oldest old. Age and sex differences in the Umeå 85+Study, Aging. Clinical and Experimental Research 2: 116–126.


Weiss, R. S. (1973). Loneliness. The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


Woolcock, M. (2001). The place of social capital in understanding social and economic outcomes. In J. F. Helliwell (ed.), The Contribution of Human and Social Capital to Sustained Economic Growth and Well-being: International Symposium Report (pp 65–88). Human Resources Development Canada and OECD.


Yesavage, J. A ., Brink, T.L., Rose, T .L., Lum, O., Huang, V., Adey, M. B. & Leirer, V.O. (1983). Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: A preliminary report, Journal of Psychiatric Research 17: 37–49. [Read this article]