Loneliness, fear, and quality of life among elderly in Sweden: a gender perspective

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2005 Dec;17(6):494-501. doi: 10.1007/BF03327417.


Background and aims: The aim of this work was to study feelings of loneliness and fear among elderly people (75+) in a gender perspective, and to explore their causes.

Methods: A cross-sectional study (postal questionnaire) with a randomised and age-stratified sample (n = 4277) was used to study the variables of interest. Because the variables were compared between men and women, weighted values for means, standard deviations, and ratios were used. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify the causes of loneliness and fear.

Results: Findings showed that loneliness and fear were both more frequently reported by women than men. Loneliness was significantly associated with gender, marital status, living in special accommodation, fear, and need of help with activities of daily living (IADL). Fear was significantly associated with gender, number of children, having someone to trust, loneliness, and being in need of help with IADL. Those who reported loneliness and/or fear had significantly lower health-related quality of life than those who did not. Many of the elderly feared violence/crime, but only a few had been exposed to violence/crime.

Conclusions: Loneliness and fear are common among elderly people. Both variables seem to be related to each other and were both found to be "threats" to a good life in old age. However, to minimize these "threats" and perhaps improve these people's quality of life, action can be taken in the care for elderly people such as involving the social network and reducing the need of help with IADL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology