The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age

A special issue of Healthcare (ISSN 2227-9032). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Assessments".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2024 | Viewed by 9424

Special Issue Editor

Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva 8410501, Israel
Interests: mental health; aging; cognitive aging; ageism; social relationships

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Healthcare systems worldwide strive to address the health needs of older adults as the population ages. Growing old is often associated with worsening health and places a burden on aging individuals, their families and healthcare systems. Being embedded in a supportive social environment is beneficial for health in old age, and the state of one's social relationships can positively impact physical, cognitive and mental health. Various aspects of social relationships, such as their quality, valence and structure, impact health in old age in different ways and under different conditions.

This Special Issue of Healthcare seeks commentaries, original research, short reports, and reviews on the effects of social relationships on health in old age, focusing on new and emerging topics. This Special Issue aims to identify dimensions of social relationships that promote physical, cognitive and mental health. It will also welcome contributions exploring moderating and mediating factors, as well as longitudinal processes and objective health measures that may provide a firmer ground for decision making in addition to self-report measures. Additional related contributions are welcome. It is envisioned that health policy specialists, policymakers, and healthcare practitioners will use this Special Issue as a resource for developing progressive social interventions for older adults.

Dr. Ella Cohn-Schwartz
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • social support
  • social networks
  • friends
  • family
  • social interactions
  • physical health
  • cognitive health
  • chronic illnesses
  • health promotion
  • depression

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 396 KiB  
Article
Effects of Community Environment, Leisure, and Social Activities on Health Status of Older Adults with Diabetes in South Korea
Healthcare 2023, 11(14), 2105; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11142105 - 24 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
This study investigates the effects of community environment, leisure, and social activities on the health status of older adults with diabetes, a serious disease in modern society. Data from the 2020 National Survey of Older Koreans were analyzed. Descriptive statistics were used to [...] Read more.
This study investigates the effects of community environment, leisure, and social activities on the health status of older adults with diabetes, a serious disease in modern society. Data from the 2020 National Survey of Older Koreans were analyzed. Descriptive statistics were used to assess participants’ characteristics, and regression analyses were conducted to assess the effects of community environment, leisure, and social activities. Mediating effects were tested using hierarchical regression analysis and bootstrapping. The key results are as follows. (a) Community environmental satisfaction affected participation in leisure and social activities. (b) Community accessibility had a negative effect on subjective health, while community environmental satisfaction had a positive effect on subjective health, cognitive function, and chronic diseases. (c) Leisure activities had a positive effect on cognitive health, while social activities influenced subjective health, cognitive function, and chronic diseases. (d) Analysis of the mediating effect of leisure and social activities on the relationship between the community environment and health status of older adults with diabetes confirmed a partial mediating effect. To improve older adults’ mental and physical health, mere quantitative increases in the community environment will not be sufficient. It is necessary to cultivate and manage professionals to increase opportunities for participation by increasing social exchanges and systematically managing older adults’ health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
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17 pages, 541 KiB  
Article
Relationships among Square Dance, Group Cohesion, Perceived Social Support, and Psychological Capital in 2721 Middle-Aged and Older Adults in China
Healthcare 2023, 11(14), 2025; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11142025 - 14 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1200
Abstract
(1) Background: Aging is a global phenomenon, and China’s aging is extensive and rapid and already at the middle to upper level worldwide. Promoting social interaction and increasing positive psychological qualities in individuals are key components in helping people adapt to the physical [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Aging is a global phenomenon, and China’s aging is extensive and rapid and already at the middle to upper level worldwide. Promoting social interaction and increasing positive psychological qualities in individuals are key components in helping people adapt to the physical and mental changes of the aging process. Among them, how middle-aged and older adults improve their physical and mental health through physical activity is of great concern. (2) Methods: This study measured the physical activity of 2721 middle-aged and elderly square dance participants across China, and structural equation modeling was applied to explore the relationship between square dance exercise and group cohesion as well as the role of perceived social support and psychological capital. (3) Results: The results showed that (a) square dance exercise positively predicts group cohesion among middle-aged and older adults. (b) Perceived social support and psychological capital mediate the relationship between square dance exercise and group cohesion, and the mediating role consists of three pathways: perceived social support alone, psychological capital alone, and perceived social support-psychological capital chain mediation. (c) The mediating effect of psychological capital alone is greater than the mediating effect of perceived social support alone and the mediating effect of the perceived social support-psychological capital chain. (4) Conclusions: This study provides support for the theory and practice of square dance exercise and intervention guidance for increasing positive psychological qualities and group dynamic levels in middle-aged and older adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
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13 pages, 565 KiB  
Article
The Moderating Roles of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religiosity on the Relationship between Social Networks and Flourishing: A Study on Community-Dwelling Widowed Older Adults in Malaysia
Healthcare 2023, 11(9), 1300; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11091300 - 02 May 2023
Viewed by 1118
Abstract
Widowhood affects the social networks and well-being of older adults. Religion might moderate the relationship between a stressor and well-being. This study aimed to identify the moderating roles of intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity on the relationship between social networks and flourishing among widowed [...] Read more.
Widowhood affects the social networks and well-being of older adults. Religion might moderate the relationship between a stressor and well-being. This study aimed to identify the moderating roles of intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity on the relationship between social networks and flourishing among widowed older people and whether this relationship varied across gender. This study involved 655 community-dwelling widowed older Malaysians from Wave 1 (2012–2013) of “Identifying Psychosocial Risks and Quantifying the Economic Costs of Age-Related Cognitive Decline among Older Malaysians” in Peninsula Malaysia. The moderated hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to examine the moderating roles of religiosity. Results showed that the moderating effect of religiosity on the relationship between social networks and flourishing was only observed for extrinsic religiosity, not intrinsic religiosity. In terms of gender differences, extrinsic religiosity moderated the relationship between social networks, flourishing only among widows but not widowers. Widows with low levels of extrinsic religiosity should join activities or programs that could expand their social networks to promote higher well-being despite widowhood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
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10 pages, 237 KiB  
Article
Intergenerational Resource Transfer Patterns between Parents and Children in South Korea and Depression
Healthcare 2023, 11(8), 1100; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11081100 - 12 Apr 2023
Viewed by 844
Abstract
This study investigated the patterns of intergenerational resources transfer between parents and children in South Korea, and the influence on depression by its patterns. To maintain this, the seventh wave of Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging data were used. For data analysis, Latent [...] Read more.
This study investigated the patterns of intergenerational resources transfer between parents and children in South Korea, and the influence on depression by its patterns. To maintain this, the seventh wave of Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging data were used. For data analysis, Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was used with five sub-factor variables: direct and indirect connections, receiving and providing financial support, and rearing grandchildren. For additional analysis, crosstab, logistic analysis, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and multiple regression were used. In the results, the optimal number of latent classes was four (parents offering, financial-centered, mutual offering, and emotional and financial-centered). In addition to the LCA results, there were some differences in predictors of pattern determination in each country. According to the results of ANOVA and multiple regression, parents offering and financial patterns led to more depression than the other two patterns. Based on the results, the importance of mutual communication and emotional connection was suggested for managing depression in South Korean older parents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
15 pages, 288 KiB  
Article
The Individual and Combined Effects of Social Networks and Loneliness on Life Satisfaction among Community-Dwelling Residing Older Adults: A Longitudinal Study
Healthcare 2023, 11(7), 935; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11070935 - 24 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1183
Abstract
Social networks and loneliness are correlates of life satisfaction in old age. However, the evidence of the combined effects of social isolation and loneliness on life satisfaction is lacking; therefore, this study also aimed to investigate the combined effects of social networks and [...] Read more.
Social networks and loneliness are correlates of life satisfaction in old age. However, the evidence of the combined effects of social isolation and loneliness on life satisfaction is lacking; therefore, this study also aimed to investigate the combined effects of social networks and loneliness on life satisfaction in Malaysian older adults. Data from two waves of the “Neuroprotective Model for Healthy Longevity among Malaysian Older Adults” study were extracted. The first wave of data collection was completed in February 2013, while the second wave was conducted three years after the first wave. The main statistical analysis used was multivariable logistic regression. For individual effect, social networks (B = 0.375, p = 0.007), but not loneliness (B = −0.178, p = 0.368) significantly determined life satisfaction. Increasing social network size causes increasing life satisfaction. For combined effects, those in “the lone farmers” group (B = 0.279, p = 0.044) and “the majority” group (B = −0.413, p = 0.004) were linked to life satisfaction. Social engagement in older people is important for wellbeing in later life. Therefore, community programs and investing in a quality relationship should be encouraged to obtain adequate support and ultimately promote higher life satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
13 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
Older Parents’ Cynical Hostility and Their Relationships with Their Adult Children: A Longitudinal Dyadic Study of North American Couples
Healthcare 2023, 11(5), 736; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11050736 - 02 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1078
Abstract
Older adults’ relationships with their children are often a source of reciprocal emotional and instrumental support, but also of strain. Cynical hostility is a cognitive schema, according to which people cannot be trusted. Previous studies showed that cynical hostility has adverse implications for [...] Read more.
Older adults’ relationships with their children are often a source of reciprocal emotional and instrumental support, but also of strain. Cynical hostility is a cognitive schema, according to which people cannot be trusted. Previous studies showed that cynical hostility has adverse implications for social relationships. Little is known about the possible outcomes of parental cynical hostility on older adults’ relationships with their children. Two waves of the Health and Retirement Study and Actor–Partner Interdependence Models were used to examine the way spouses’ cynical hostility at Time 1 is associated with their own and their spouse’s relationship with the children at Time 2. Both partners’ cynical hostility predicts his or her own strain in the relationship with the children, and for husbands, their spouse’s cynical hostility also predicts strain. For husbands only, their own cynical hostility is associated with reduced perceived support from their children. Finally, a husband’s cynical hostility is associated with both partners’ reduced contact with their children. These findings illuminate the social and familial costs of cynical hostility in old age, suggesting that older adults with higher levels of cynical hostility may be more susceptible to strained relationships with their children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
14 pages, 466 KiB  
Article
Accelerometer-Assessed Physical Activity and Cognitive Performance among European Adults Aged 50+: The Mediating Effects of Social Contacts and Depressive Symptoms
Healthcare 2022, 10(11), 2279; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10112279 - 14 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2289
Abstract
Background: Cognitive decline is a major public health concern worldwide and it is vital to identify and better understand effective population-based means to improve cognitive performance in old age. The current study set out to examine the links between accelerometer-based physical activity with [...] Read more.
Background: Cognitive decline is a major public health concern worldwide and it is vital to identify and better understand effective population-based means to improve cognitive performance in old age. The current study set out to examine the links between accelerometer-based physical activity with cognitive performance in later life, as well the indirect pathways through one’s social network contacts and depression. Method: We used data from 855 participants aged 50 and above who took part in a cross-sectional accelerometer study as part of the Survey of Ageing, Retirement and Health (SHARE). Cognitive function was measured as an average score of fluency, immediate and delayed recall tests, social contacts were the average contact frequency with members of the social support network, and depression was the Euro-D summary score of depressive symptoms. A multiple mediation analysis was conducted to test the direct and indirect associations between total physical activity (intensity gradient) and cognitive function, as well as the mediation of this association by social contacts and depressive symptoms. Results: Intensity of physical activity was directly related to better cognitive performance (B = 0.170, p = 0.007). The association was partially mediated by social contacts (B = 0.022, 95% CI 0.005, 0.046) and depressive symptoms (B = 0.009, 95% CI 0.009, 0.025), such that total physical activity was linked to cognitive health via more frequent contacts with network members and low depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Practitioners might consider encouraging a physically active lifestyle that involves social interactions to support better cognitive aging and mental health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Social Relationships on Health in Old Age)
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