Publication Date

11-2007

Abstract

Nearly all older adults experience social losses, which can disrupt their social support networks and impair their quality of life. Events such as retirement, an inability to drive, death of a spouse and/or close life-long friends, or moving to an elder care facility may negatively affect the quality of older adults’ social support networks. Low levels of perceived social support are associated with increased depression, impaired immune functioning and reduced life expectancy. Moreover, social interactions can be cognitively stimulating and may help older adults preserve their cognitive abilities. In the present study, institutionalized older adults were exposed to either a cognitive enhancement programme designed to enhance social networks or a control group. Measures of perceived social support and loneliness were administered before and after a 3-month, group-based intervention. There was a significant interaction between group and time. Those who did not participate in the intervention experienced a decrease in perceived social support and an increase in perceived loneliness. Participants in the intervention group stayed the same on the above measures. Helping older adults increase or maintain the quality of their social networks may lead to enhanced cognitive functioning, decreased depression and improved quality of life. Recommendations to help assisted living facilities, nursing homes, retirement communities and senior centers develop social and cognitive interventions are provided.

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Type (DCMI Terms)

Text

Journal

Aging & Mental Health

Volume Number

11

Issue Number

6

First Page Number

716

Last Page Number

721

Identifier

10.1080/13607860701366228

Type

Article

Department

Psychology

Rights

In Copyright (In-C)

Included in

Psychology Commons

Share

COinS