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The Elderly and their Informal Social Networks

  • J. Victor Thompson (a1)

Abstract

A sample of 334 people aged 56 and over living in the Capital Regional District of B. C. (Greater Victoria) were interviewed about their supportive social network. Four social supportive roles were investigated: caretaker, helper, confidant, and advisor.

Most of the sample had network members to fulfil these roles, however, in the lives of about one-fifth of the respondents, support in one or more of these areas was not available. Although most of the respondents in excellent or good health felt no need for more people in certain supportive roles, more people with fair or poor health expressed a need for more people in their supportive networks.

This research supports earlier findings about the vulnerability of women who are widowed and over 74 years old. They are the group most in need of socially supportive networks.

Un enchantillonage de 334 habitants de Victoria, Colombie-Britannique, âgés de 56 ans et plus, furent interviewés au sujet de leurs réseaux de maintien social. Quatre rôles principaux de maintien social ont été identifiés et constituent le sujet de cette étude: celui de “gardien” (caretaker); celui d“assistant” (helper); celui de “confident” (confidante); et celui de “conseiller” (adviser).

La majorité des personnes interviewées ont pu identifier au sein de leur réseau de maintien social certains individus qui étaient en mesure de remplir chacune de ces fonctions. Par centre, un ou plusieurs de ces rôles de maintien étaient absents dans le cas d'environ un cinquième des répondants.

La plupart de nos sujets jouissaient d'une bonne santé et ne ressentaient pas le besoin d'avoir accès à un plus grand nombre d'individus pouvant contribuer à leur maintien; parmi ceux dont la santé était compromise, la majorité ont exprimé le besoin d'avoir à leur disposition un nombre plus élevé de personnes jouant pour eux un rôle de maintien. Les résultats de cette étude confirment les résultats d'études antérieures concernant la vulnérabilité des veuves âgées de plus de 74 ans. Ces femmes constituent le groupe pour lequel les carences, dans le domaine du maintien social, sont les plus graves.

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References

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The Elderly and their Informal Social Networks

  • J. Victor Thompson (a1)

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