The feasibility of measuring social networks among older adults in assisted living and dementia special care units.
BACKGROUND: Studies indicate that social integration has a significant influence on physical and mental health. Older adults experience an increased risk of social isolation as their social networks decline with fewer traditional opportunities to add new social relationships. Deaths of similar aged friends, cognitive and functional impairments, and relocating to a nursing home (NH) or assisted-living (AL) facility contribute to difficulties in maintaining one's social network. Due to the paucity of research examining the social networks of people residing in AL and NH, this study was designed to develop and test the feasibility of using a combination of methodological approaches to capture social network data among older adults living in AL and a dementia special care unit NH. METHODS: Social network analysis of both egocentric and sociocentric networks was conducted to visualize the social networks of 15 residents of an AL neighborhood and 12 residents of a dementia special care unit NH and to calculate measures network size, centrality, and reciprocity. RESULTS: The combined egocentric and sociocentric method was feasible and provided a robust indicator of resident social networks highlighting individuals who were socially integrated as well as isolated.
Abbott, KM; Bettger, JP; Hampton, KN; Kohler, H-P
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