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Ageing, meaning and social structureConnecting critical and humanistic gerontology$
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Jan Baars, Joseph Dohmen, Amanda Grenier, and Chris Phillipson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447300908

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447300908.001.0001

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Social ability or social frailty? The balance between autonomy and connectedness in the lives of older people

Social ability or social frailty? The balance between autonomy and connectedness in the lives of older people

Chapter:
(p.119) Seven Social ability or social frailty? The balance between autonomy and connectedness in the lives of older people
Source:
Ageing, meaning and social structure
Author(s):

Anja Machielse

Roelof Hortulanus

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447300908.003.0007

This chapter discusses the important role of social relationships for ageing well in contemporary society, where people are less able to fall back on 'given' bonds such as family or neighbourhood relationships, and good personal competencies are necessary to make meaningful contacts. These contacts are crucial for dealing with problematic situations and circumstances with which people are confronted, and which tend to happen more often as people age. In this chapter the personal networks of Dutch older adults are described; it shows that two-thirds of them have a supportive social network. For the rest, the social network is less attractive; they are lonely or socially isolated. The empirical data make clear that the extent to which older adults are embedded in a meaningful social network has enriching consequences for their dealing with major life events and their chances of aging well. It shows that well-being is the greatest when people succeed at finding a good balance between individual autonomy and independence on one hand, and connectedness with others in a meaningful and supportive network on the other.

Keywords:   Loneliness, social isolation, social relationships, life events, connectedness, older adults

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