The demographics of loneliness among older people in Perth, Western Australia

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Abstract:

Objectives: 

To determine the prevalence and demographic correlates of loneliness in a sample of older people in Perth, Western Australia. Methods: 

People aged 65 years and over living in private dwellings were recruited randomly, stratified by socioeconomic area, sex and 5-year age groups to 85 years. A total of 353 people with mean age of 77.5 years responded to a mailed questionnaire comprising demographic questions and three measures of loneliness. Results: 

Severe loneliness was reported by 7.0% of the sample and feeling lonely sometimes by 31.5%. Higher levels of loneliness were reported by single participants, those who lived alone and those with worse self-rated health. The protective value against loneliness of social networks appears to be, in order of importance: friends, relatives, neighbours and children. Conclusions: 

Although loneliness is not universally reported by older Perth residents, its prevalence is still considerable and worthy of attention from mental health practitioners and policy-makers.

Keywords: loneliness; measurement; older people; prevalence; social networks

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-6612.2007.00221.x

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia 2: Centre for Research on Ageing, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia 3: School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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