Friendship patterns among the elderly
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During old age there are many challenges that the elderly have to meet. These challenges can include adapting to diminished bodily abilities, decreased intellectual vitality, the death of a spouse and the loss of friends, adapting to new roles and activities, a change in income, a change of housing conditions and retirement. Due to advanced technology and to more sophisticated medical services, life expectancy has changed significantly, which implies that generally speaking people could grow older and that they have to deal with life transitions and daily demands. Friendships enable people to cope better with life transitions and challenges. Very little research, however, is available on the friendship patterns of the elderly. A quantitative, single cross-sectional survey study was conducted where 200 elderly people in South Africa were interviewed by means of a semi-structured questionnaire. The purpose of the research was to investigate friendship patterns among the elderly, and to confirm whether or not people have fewer friendships as they grow older. Data has been statistically analysed by means of frequencies. Results indicate that as people age, they indeed have fewer friendships due to the death of friends, transport problems, illness and the fact that friends moved away. It was also found that although the number of friends becomes fewer, friendship is still regarded as an important aspect. Suggestions are made regarding the value of having different kinds of friendships, which will promote resilience and create more social resources to deal with challenging life transitions.
- ETD@PUK