Loneliness among older European adults: results from the survey of health, aging and retirement in Europe

Maria Vozikaki*, Angeliki Papadaki, Manolis Linardakis, Anastas Philalithis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
438 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose: Previous research has suggested that individuals are mostly prone to loneliness in their later years of life because of exposure to several risk factors typical of old age. The current study aims to examine possible demographic, health and social determinants of loneliness among older adults in Europe. Methods: Data on a nationally representative sample of 5074 Europeans aged ≥ 65 years were drawn from the first wave of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, 2004/2005). Frequency of feelings of loneliness was examined according to adverse health conditions, stressful life events and social isolation indicators. Results: Female gender, older age, lower socioeconomic status, living unpartnered, being childless and having no activity involvement were significantly associated with frequent feelings of loneliness (p < 0.001). The proportion of the respondents who declared enduring loneliness most of the time compared with none of the time was significantly higher among Southern Europeans relative to their Northern counterparts (p < 0.001). Recent departure of offspring from the parental nest was a significant predictor of loneliness in both the second (ORs = 2.08; 95% CI 1.24–3.48) and the third (ORs = 1.75; 95% CI 1.03–2.96) multiple regression models. Conclusion: In this sample of older Europeans, several demographic characteristics, specific adverse health conditions, stressful life events and social isolation indicators were associated with feelings of loneliness. Policy initiatives for the alleviation of loneliness in older age should therefore aim at improving psychosocial and health-related difficulties faced by this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-624
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Public Health (Germany)
Volume26
Issue number6
Early online date27 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Older adults
  • Loneliness
  • Health
  • Social isolation
  • SHARE study

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