Compensatory Processes in the Social Networks of Older Adults

  • Karen S. Rook
  • Tonya L. Schuster
Chapter
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)

Abstract

Changes in the composition, functions, or health-related effects of a person’s social network can occur at any point in life, but such changes have aroused special interest among gerontologists for several reasons. First, older adults experience many life events and role transitions (e. g., retirement, bereavement, and residential relocation) that lead to network disruptions and reconfigurations (e. g., Lopata, 1979). Second, the financial and physical limitations that some older adults experience tend to restrict their social network involvement. Third, basic aging processes may produce shifts in the motivations for social contact and in preferences for social partners, resulting in a realignment of social network ties (e. g., Carstensen, 1991). Fourth, the onset of chronic health problems in later life may alter the psychosocial and material resources needed from the social network, and this alteration in turn may precipitate transformations in the functions performed by specific network members (e. g., Felton, 1990; Miller & McFall, 1991; Penning, 1990; Stoller & Pugliesi, 1988) and in the extent to which formal service providers become involved to supplement or supplant the efforts of network members (Noelker & Bass, 1989). Fifth, ample theory and research suggest that features of social network involvement have important consequences for human health and well-being (House, Umberson, & Landis, 1988), thus lending some urgency to efforts to understand how older adults respond to changes in their social networks.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen S. Rook
    • 1
  • Tonya L. Schuster
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social EcologyUniversity of California at IrvineIrvineUSA

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