Social engagement has been associated with improved health outcomes in older people, although the precise mechanisms by which this is mediated are not clear. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between social engagement and health and social care use and medication use in older people. Data were derived from the 1985, 1989 and 1993 waves of the Nottingham Longitudinal Study of Activity and Ageing, a nationally representative sample of people aged 65 and over. Logistic regression models were used to determine whether social engagement predicted cross-sectional and longitudinal health and social care use and medication use. People with higher social engagement were significantly less likely to have seen their family doctor, the district nurse or home help services, and to be taking two or more medications cross-sectionally. This relationship was independent of demographic factors, physical and mental health and physical activity for contact with the district nurse or home help services. Higher social engagement was associated with reduced contact with home help services after 4 years, independent of demographic factors, physical and mental health, and with reduced medication use after 4 years in unadjusted models. Higher social engagement was associated with increased contact with home help services after 8 years, when controlling for demographic factors, physical and mental health and physical activity. Higher social engagement may help to reduce cross-sectional health and social care service and medication use but further research is required to understand the benefits of social engagement and medium- and long-term service/medication use.
Social engagement Health, social care use Medication use