S. Ashida, D.K. Sewell, E.J. Schafer, A.L. Schroer, J.E. Friberg
2017 Innovation in aging  
a positive self-image, in their narratives they actually seem to avoid negative references to stereotypes of childless elders. The interviewees perceive themselves as in whole embedded in their social networks, which consists mostly of long-standing relationships. They do not regret being childless, although participants with lesser intergenerational contacts address the lack of grandchildren. Along with this, missing social and intergenerational ties are linked to negative subjective
more » ... . These first findings from an ongoing Ph.D. study reveal the accumulated resources and risks of childless and single persons in old age. Besides, the biographical approach helps to gain a deeper understanding of childlessness as a lifelong process. Socially engaging with others has been shown to be important for the well-being of older adults. However, little is known about how co-engaging in activity with someone may facilitate well-being. This study investigated whether network functions (i.e., social support, companionship, social influence) are more likely to occur in relationships involving co-engagement in activities, versus relationships without co-engagement, and whether these functions may explain well-being. Adults ages 60 years and older were interviewed once inperson or by phone in a rural US Midwestern city. A total of 133 respondents provided information on 1,740 relationships within their social networks. Respondents identified 68% of enumerated network members as someone they interacted with at least once a month. Focusing on those who interacted at least monthly, 57% co-engaged in social activities with the respondent. Results of the generalized linear mixed model analyses showed the relationships involving co-engagement were more likely to also involve emotional support (OR=3.69, p<0.001), informational support (OR=2.91, p<0.001), companionship (OR=9.38, p<0.001), and encouragement for healthy behaviors (OR=2.55, p=0.002) than those not involving co-engagement. Having more members providing companionship was associated with better psychological well-being: Ryff's environmental mastery (p=0.01) and positive relations with others (p<0.01) scales. Co-engagement in social activity brings social benefits like support, companionship, and encouragement. Companionship may contribute to the psychological wellbeing of older adults. Future research may explore how other aspects of older adults' well-being, such as physical health and health behaviors, may be facilitated by functions like social influence and support arising from co-engagement in social activity.
doi:10.1093/geroni/igx004.4292 fatcat:x74fjsconvb5vjmtl55pkngzue