The Effects of Gender and Marital Status on Loneliness of the Aged

By Rokach, Ami; Matalon, Raan et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, February 10, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Gender and Marital Status on Loneliness of the Aged


Rokach, Ami, Matalon, Raan, Rokach, Ben, Safarov, Artem, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


This study explored the qualitative aspects of loneliness in the elderly. Eighty-nine men were compared to 239 women in the age range of 61-94. A 30-item yes/no loneliness questionnaire was utilized to compare the loneliness experience in the two samples. The questionnaire comprises 5 qualitative dimensions of loneliness, namely Emotional distress, Social inadequacy and alienation, Growth and discovery, Interpersonal isolation, and Self - alienation. Results confirmed the hypothesis that women experience loneliness significantly differently from men. Women scored significantly higher on the Growth and discovery subscale. The two groups were also compared to see whether marital status affected the experience of loneliness. Results showed a significant main effect only for men. Married men had lower subscale scores on the Interpersonal isolation subscale than did the unmarried.

Keywords: loneliness, the elderly, marital status, gender, loneliness questionnaire, growth and discovery subscale.

Recent studies suggest that a large proportion of the population feel lonely frequently (Rokach & Brock, 1997). U.S surveys indicate that a quarter of North Americans report having felt lonely in the past four weeks (Perlman, 2004). Loneliness has been linked to depression, anxiety, and interpersonal hostility (Hansson, Jones, Carpenter, & Remondet, 1986), to increased vulnerability to health problems (Jones, Rose, & Russell, 1990), and even to suicide (Cutrona, 1982; Medora & Woodward, 1986). Rook (1988) observed that loneliness results from the interaction of personal factors and situational constraints. That interaction is closely associated with the changing life circumstances which one encounters.

As Rokach (1988) indicated, loneliness is a universal phenomenon, embedded in the human experience since the beginning of time. Those changing circumstances, life events, and opportunities undoubtedly affect the manner in which people experience, evaluate, and cope with life's demands. It therefore stands to reason that the experience of loneliness, as well as the manner in which different age groups approach and cope with it, would differ at various stages in life (Rokach & Brock, 1998). Ernst and Cacioppo (1999) asserted that there is an overall positive correlation between loneliness and age. "The population is aging. Baby boomers are approaching retirement age, and individuals over age 85 make up the single fastest-growing segment of the population. Our society is faced with quickly finding answers to questions about longevity and quality of life that, because they pertained to so few people, were not matters of urgency just a few decades ago" (Williamson, Shaffer, & Parmelee, 2000; p. xi).

The present study aims at understanding, explaining, and highlighting the various facets of loneliness as experienced by the elderly. Traditionally, age 65 has been seen as an age in which one may be considered "old". That is the age at which various laws mandate retirement. People in their 60s and 70s encounter changes in their bodies, their functioning, and in their environment (Darley, Glucksberg, & Kinchla, 1991). Amongst those changes that the elderly face are declining health, possible cognitive changes, retirement and life style changes, death of a spouse and other significant losses (such as the death of friends).

Due to increased life expectancy, better living conditions (at least in Western culture) and advances in medicine, the relative proportion of the older population is growing. (Hooyman & Kiyak, 2005). In 1900, only 4% of the population were aged 65 or over. Today, only a century later, this segment accounts for 12.4% of the U.S. population (U.S. Administration on Aging, 2002). Demographics predict that by 2030 the population of those 65 and older may grow to 25% of the U.S. population, a staggering increase of 100% in only 25 years.

As Arber, Davidson, and Ginn (2003) observed, age represents a marker for several distinctive processes within older people's lives. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Effects of Gender and Marital Status on Loneliness of the Aged
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.