Sunday, December 2, 2012

Loneliness: How Older Adults Cope (Research, Meals on Wheels Volunteer Video 1:10)

Whether at home or in institutions, loneliness can be both difficult and dangerous for the overall health of older adults. Too many of them endure the negative impact of loneliness daily and have trouble coping. Because information on this topic is so limited, the Department of Sociology at VU University in Amsterdam did research on how older adults cope and help their lonely peers in coping. This research on older adult loneliness was done with 1,187 respondents aged 62-100 viewing four vignettes about lonely people and later being asked about coping skills that would help. Older adults emphasized two ways of coping:

1)   Active Coping (improving relationships)

2) Regulative Coping (lowering expectations about relationships)


Older adults suggested using both ways to cope with loneliness, but active coping was suggested less often to people who are older, in poor health, or lonely and by older adults who were employed in midlife and have high self-esteem. Regulative coping with lower relationship expectations was suggested more often to people who are older and by older adults with a low educational level and with low mastery. Unfortunately, active coping through improving relationships is less often seen as an option for and by the people who could benefit most from it.

These results further emphasize the need for improving relationships in the lives of lonely older adults. Year-round regular visiting from family, friends, volunteers, and others can do so much to improve their self-esteem and general quality of life. In this video titled Delivering So Much More Than Meals - A REAL Volunteer Story, Max, a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels demonstrates the win-win rewards of visiting those who are lonely.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and several other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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