Social network types among older adults: a multidimensional approach

Katherine L Fiori, Jacqui Smith, Toni C Antonucci
Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 2007, 62 (6): P322-30
Theories of social relations suggest that individuals' personal networks reflect multiple aspects of relationships, and that different constellations are more or less supportive of well-being. Using data from the Berlin Aging Study (N = 516; age, M = 85 years), we derived network types that reflect information about structure, function, and quality, and we examined their association with well-being. A cluster analysis revealed six network types: diverse-supported, family focused, friend focused-supported, friend focused-unsupported, restricted-nonfriends-unsatisfied, and restricted-nonfamily-unsupported. Well-being was predicted differentially by the six types. Although the oldest-old individuals (85 years of age or older) were overrepresented in the friend-focused-supported and restricted types, age did not moderate the association of types with well-being. A holistic consideration of structure, function, and quality of social networks in old age offers unique insights.

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