Trajectories of social engagement and limitations in late life

J Health Soc Behav. 2011 Dec;52(4):430-43. doi: 10.1177/0022146511411922.


Although studies have established important links between social relations and health, much of this research does not take into account the dynamic nature of both social relations and health over time. The present study combines person-centered and variable-centered approaches and uses social integration theory within the life course framework to examine patterns of change in social engagement and how those patterns relate to trajectories of physical and cognitive limitations among older adults, using data from the Americans' Changing Lives survey, a nationally representative panel study (N = 1,667). Individuals who had trajectories of high and increasing social engagement experienced lower levels of physical and cognitive limitations over time. The findings suggest the importance of maintaining high levels of social engagement for the physical and cognitive health of older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Isolation*
  • United States / epidemiology