Living in single person households and the risk of isolation in later life

Main Article Content

Michael Hill
Laura Banks
Philip Haynes

Abstract

Data from the International Social Survey Programme (2001) was used to analyse the social networks of older people and whether living in single person households increased the risk of isolation. When comparing respondents with one or more adult children, there was no significant difference in the likelihood of experiencing familial isolation between people living in single person households and those living in larger households. A majority of those living in single person households had at least regular contact with a sibling, adult child or close friend and participated in a social organisation. Friends compensate to some extent for a lack of support from the family, although in southern and eastern European countries, other relatives appeared to be more important in support networks. People living in single person households were more likely to experience isolation, but this was largely related to advanced age and childlessness. Whilst a very small minority in Japan were living in single person households, they were significantly more likely to be severely isolated than those living in single person households in other countries.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

Section
Articles

References

Ajrouch, K., Antonucci, T. & Janevic, M. (2001). Social networks among blacks and whites: The interaction between race and age. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 56B(2): 112–118.


Andersson, L. & Sundström, G. (1996). The social networks of elderly people in Sweden. In H. Litwin (ed.), The Social Networks of Older People (pp. 15–30). London: Praeger.


Attias-Donfut, C., Ogg, J. & Wolff, F. (2005). Family support in social and family context. In J. Siegrist (ed.), Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe – First Results from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Mannheim: Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging, University of Mannheim.


Attias-Donfut, C. & Rozenkier, A. (1996). The lineage structured social networks of older eople in France. In H. Litwin (ed.), The Social Networks of Older People (pp. 31–54). London: Praeger.


Barnes, M., Blom, A., Cox, K., Lessof, C. & Walker, A. (2006). The Social Exclusion of Older People: Evidence from the First Wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). London: New Horizons programme, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. http://monash.bepress.com/research/199/


Burholt, V., Wenger, G. C. & Lamura, G., (with Paulsson, C., van der Meer, M., Ferring, D. & Glu¨ ck, J.) (2003). European Study of Adult Wellbeing: Social Support Resources Comparative Report, Report to European Commission, Brussels, Centre for Social Policy Research and Development, Institute for Medical and Social Care Research, University of Wales, Bangor.


Campbell, L., Connidis, I. & Davies, L. (1999). Sibling ties in later life: A social network analysis. Journal of Family Issues 20(1): 114–148. [Read this article]


Cavelli, S., Bickel, J. & D’Epinay, C. (2007). Exclusion in very old age: The impacts of three critical life events. International Journal of Ageing and Later Life 2(1): 9–31. [Read this article]


Connidis, I. (1983). Living arrangement choices of older residents: Assessing quantitative results with qualitative data. Canadian Journal of Sociology 8(4): 359–375. [Read this article]


Finch, J. (1989). Kinship and friendship. In R. Jowell., S. Witherspoon & L. Brook (eds.), British Social Attitudes: Special International Report (pp. 87–103). Aldershot: Gower.


Fyvie-Gauld, M. & de Podesta, S. (2007). Neighbourhood care scheme, the ‘Coronation Street’ model of community care. In S. Balloch & M. Hill (eds.), Care, Community and Citizenship (pp. 177–192). Bristol: Policy Press.


Hollinger, F. & Haller, M. (1990). Kinship and social networks in modern societies: A cross-cultural comparison among seven nations. European Sociological Review 6(2): 103–124.


Holmen, K. & Furukawa, H. (2002). Loneliness, health and social network among elderly people – a follow-up study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 35(3): 261–274. [Read this article]


Jylhä, M. (2004). Old age and loneliness: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses in the Tampere longitudinal study on aging. Canadian Journal of Aging 23: 157–168. [Read this article]


Keating, N., Otfinowski, P., Wenger, C., Fast, J. & Derksen, L. (2003). Understanding the caring capacity of informal networks of frail seniors: A case for care networks. Ageing and Society 23(1): 115–127.


Keating, N., Swindle, J. & Foster, D. (2005). The Role of Social Capital in Ageing Well in Social Capital in Action Thematic Policy Studies. Edmonton, Alberta: Policy Research Initiative, University of Alberta.


Kharicha, K., Iliffe, S., Harari, D., Swift, C., Gillmann, G. & Stuck, A. (2007). Health risk appraisal in older people 1: Are older people living in single person households an ‘at-risk’ group? British Journal of General Practice 57: 271–276.


Klein, S. & Harkness, J. (2001). ISSP study monitoring 2001 report to the ISSP general assembly. Available on http://www.za.uni-koeln.de/data/en/issp/codebooks/ZA3680–mr.pdf (Accessed: June 19, 2009).


Martin, L. & Noriko, T. (1991). Interactions of middle-aged Japanese with their parents. Population Studies 45(2): 299–311. [Read this article]


Park, A. & Jowell, R. (1997). Consistencies and Differences in a Cross-National Survey. The International Social Survey Programme. London: SCPR.


Phillips, J., Bernard, M., Phillipson, C. & Ogg, J. (2000). Social support in later life: A study of three areas. British Journal of Social Work 30: 837–853. [Read this article]


Phillipson, C., Bernard, M., Phillips, J. & Ogg, J. (2001). The Family and Community Life of Older People: Social Networks and Social Support in three Urban Areas. London: Routledge.


Scharf, T., Phillipson, C. & Smith, A. E. (2004). Poverty and social exclusion – growing older in deprived urban neighbourhoods. In A. Walker & C. Hagan Hennessy (eds.), Growing Older – Quality of Life in Old Age (pp. 81–106). Maidenhead: Open University Press.


Scott, A. & Wenger, C. (1995). Gender and social support networks in later life. In S. Arber & J. Ginn (eds.), Connecting Gender and Ageing (pp. 158–172). Buckingham: Open University Press.


Sheldon, J. H. (1948). The Social Medicine of Old Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


The Council of the European Union. (2002). Fight Against Poverty and Social Exclusion: Common Objectives for the Second Round of National Action Plans – Endorsement. The Social Protection Committee. AGE: The European Older People’s Platform, Brussels.


Van Tilburg, T., Havens, B. & De Jong, G. (2004). Loneliness among older adults in the Netherlands, Italy, and Canada: A multifaceted comparison. Canadian Journal of Aging 23: 169–180. [Read this article]


Townsend, P. (1957). The Family Life of Old People. Harmondsworth: Penguin.


Tunstall, J. (1966). Old and Alone: A Sociological Study of Old People. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.


Victor, C., Scrambler, S., Bond, J. & Bowling, A. (2004). Loneliness in later life. In A. Walker & C. Hagan Hennessy (eds.), Growing Older – Quality of Life in Old Age (pp. 107–126). New York: Open University Press.


Wenger, G. C. (1989). Support networks in old age: Constructing a typology. In M. Jeffreys (ed.), Ageing in the 20th Century (pp. 166–185). London: Routledge.


Wenger, G. C. & Burholt, V. (2004). Changes in levels of social isolation and loneliness among older people in a rural area: A twenty year longitudinal study. Canadian Journal on Aging 23(2): 115–127. [Read this article]