Impairments, mastery, and loneliness. A prospective study of loneliness among older adults

Magnhild Nicolaisen, Kirsten Thorsen

Abstract


Old age is commonly associated with loneliness as loss of partner and friends, retirement, deteriorating health and functional impairments may make way for loneliness. An ageing population may give rise to concern for growing numbers of lonely people. The study explores loneliness among older people 67-79 years old (N=699), living in their own homes, examining whether and how socio-demographic factors, subjective health, and mastery influence loneliness among people with no impairments and people with impairments. The study uses cross-sectional and longitudinal (five-year panel) data from the Norwegian Life Course, Ageing and Generation study (NorLAG), calculating the risk of loneliness at T1, and prospectively at T2. Mastery is the only factor significantly influencing the risk of loneliness both at T1 and T2, both for older people with impairments and for those without impairments. A high level of mastery is related to a lower risk of loneliness. Being married or cohabitant are related to a lower risk of loneliness, among those without impairments both at T1 and at T2, among those with impairments only at T1. Age, gender and subjective health were not independently related to loneliness at any time. The results suggest that the subjective feeling of mastery is important to avoid loneliness, both at T1 and prospectively at T2 in both groups

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5324/nje.v22i2.1560

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