Loneliness, health and social network among elderly people--a follow-up study

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2002 Nov-Dec;35(3):261-74. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4943(02)00049-3.


The purpose of this study is to describe and follow up the existence of experienced loneliness, subjective health and social network among elderly people during a period of 10 years. The study is based on interviews (with structured questions) with persons, aged 75 years and over, performed by trained nurses at a baseline (in 1987) and three follow-ups. Descriptive statistics (frequency) and chi2 tests were used to study significant differences of the variables experienced loneliness, subjective health, housing, satisfaction with friend contacts and having a good friend to talk to, over time. The results showed that most elderly people tended to report high satisfaction with friend contacts over the study time, despite the decrease in having a good friend to talk to. The satisfaction with social contacts was very close connected with feelings of loneliness. Therefore, a greater understanding for the meaning of having a good friend/friends to talk to (meaningful contacts) seems to be important in caring for elderly people.