Interdependence between the Social and Material Convoy: Links between Volunteering, Widowhood, and Housing Transitions

Huei-Wern Shen, Tam Perry
Social Work Research 2016, 40 (2): 71-82
Relocation in older adulthood may occur due to triggering events, such as widowhood. Guided by Kahn and Antonucci's convoy model, this study explores the influence of volunteering on decision to relocate following the death of a spouse. Using three waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study (2006, 2008, and 2010), 5,146 community-dwelling married older individuals who were 65 years or older in 2008 were included. Findings from two multinomial logistic regression models showed that widows and widowers who were not volunteering in 2008 were more likely to move out of area in 2010 than their married counterparts, whereas the relationship between widowhood and relocation was not detected among those involved in volunteering. This article emphasizes the interdependency of social relationships and residences, a fundamental of one's material convoy, for older adults. Volunteering experiences may not only affect instrumental and emotional support after the loss of a key anchor in one's social convoy, but may also facilitate a widowed older adult to age in place rather than relocate.

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