Extending our theoretical and empirical understanding of social support in the old and very old

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The construct of social support has been investigated for over three decades; with inverse relationships consistently being identified among social support and stress, depression and anxiety, and a direct relationship identified between social support and psychosocial well-being. That said, the experience of social support – be that perceived or received – is not always positive; and an emergent literature has identified that the experience and thus the provisions of supportive relationships vary with increasing age. The purpose of the current study was to extend previous studies that have investigated the relationship among support, psychosocial well-being and age by examining how old and very old age individuals (i.e. 60+ years) experience supportive relationships and how these experiences in turn help to predict depression, anxiety as well as psychosocial well-being. Data for the study were collected from 750 participants using a range of psychometrically-sound measures. As found previously, the current findings demonstrate that both the positive and negative effects of support are significant and thus salient in understanding older individuals’ experience of supportive relationships. Likewise, consideration of both constructs concurrently is able to explain more of the variance, and thus yield better and more nuanced predictions in respect to depression, anxiety and psychosocial well-being. Given increasing numbers of individuals living longer, with many into their late eighties or nineties, it is therefore important to better understand just what older people think and experience in regards to the supportive relationships available to them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStress and anxiety
Subtitle of host publicationTheories and Realities
EditorsKathleen A. Moore, Petra Buchwald
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
PublisherLogos Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783832547172
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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