Older Parents’ Loneliness and Family Relationships in Japan

Abstract

This study investigated how Japanese older adults’ feelings of loneliness are related to structural, associational, and functional dimensions of intergenerational family relationships as well as to older adults’ expectations regarding filial support. The study treated intergenerational coresidence as a unique family context. Therefore, the study examined how associations differ depending on whether parents live with children or not. We analyzed data from the Nihon University Japanese Longitudinal Study of Aging (NUJLSOA) (N = 5923). The NUJLSOA data were collected five times between 1999 and 2009. The results showed that for parents who lived with children, relationships with children living separately from parents were generally not related to their feelings of loneliness, but the lack of a spouse living in the same household was significantly associated with loneliness. On the other hand, for parents who did not have a coresiding child, associational and functional family relationships with children living separately were significantly related to parents’ loneliness. The analysis also showed that while relatively frequent face-to-face contact with children was associated with a lesser likelihood of parents reporting loneliness, frequency of phone contact was not significantly related to loneliness. We discuss the different implications of family relationships for parents’ loneliness depending on their intergenerational living arrangements.

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Conflict of Interest

Author Emiko Takagi and Author Yasuhiko Saito declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Emiko Takagi.

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Authors would like to note that this research was partially supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research 25293121).

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Takagi, E., Saito, Y. Older Parents’ Loneliness and Family Relationships in Japan. Ageing Int 40, 353–375 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12126-015-9219-1

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Keywords

  • Loneliness
  • Intergenerational family relationships
  • Japan