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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social interactions, wellbeing and health in the oldest old: what can we learn from daily life approaches? Booi, Laura Marie


Canada, like many Western societies, has an aging population. Past research indicates that social interactions are meaningfully associated with physical and mental health. Unfortunately, very few studies have included individuals older than 85 years. This is important because the Oldest Old are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. This study is based on a subsample of the Berlin Aging Study (N = 83; Mean age = 81.1 years) who participated in an intensive, one-week time-sampling module. I examined how older adults regulate their social interactions by looking at two competing theories, the Convoy Model and the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory. I also examined how daily social interactions are associated with concurrent affective experiences and physical symptoms. This study found that even when controlling for cognition and overall health, age was associated with a decrease in social interactions in the present sample of older adults. Results showed that a more limited future time perspective in this sample was associated with a greater amount of time spent alone as well as a greater number of socially unpreferred situations. Furthermore, a greater amount of time spent alone was associated with lower levels of daily wellbeing. Results also showed that time spent alone was a risk factor for mortality. I discuss possible explanations as to why my findings complement past research by showing less favorable associations between social interactions and wellbeing in the Oldest Old.

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