Predicting stability and change in loneliness in later life

J Soc Pers Relat. 2014 May 1;31(3):335-351. doi: 10.1177/0265407513494951.


This study examined potential discriminators of groups of older adults showing different patterns of stability or change in loneliness over 5 years: those who became lonely, overcame loneliness, were persistently lonely, and were persistently not lonely. Discriminant function analysis results showed that the persistently lonely, compared with the persistently not lonely, were more often living alone, widowed, and experiencing poorer health and perceived control. Moreover, changes in living arrangements and perceived control predicted loneliness change. In conclusion, perceiving that one is able to meet social needs is a predictor of loneliness and loneliness change and appears to be more important than people's friendships. Because the predictors were better able to predict entry into loneliness, results point to the promise of prevention approaches to loneliness interventions.

Keywords: Living arrangements; loneliness; longitudinal; older adults; perceived control.