Loneliness among widowed persons in later life
Grossman, Mina Postlethwait
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This study was an investigation of loneliness among widowed elders using a model conceptually based on symbolic interaction theory. Symbolic interaction theorists contend that people are active, self-directing, and creative individuals who adjust to dramatic situational changes such as widowhood by defining the transition according to its symbolic meaning and their current perspective of the event. The loneliness model suggested that certain background characteristics, personality resources (morale and mastery), and perceived levels of social support would influence the sample’s perspective and definition of the social reality of widowhood, and thereby, serve to facilitate or impede the development of feelings of loneliness. In contrast to most studies of loneliness among widowed elders, this study included males (n=38) as well as females (n=135) and both short-term (6-24 months) and long-term (25-60 months) widowed persons. Participants were healthy, educated, unmarried community residents aged 69 to 91 years. In general, the sample was well adjusted with high levels of social support, morale and mastery, and low levels of loneliness. Data analyses included bivariate correlations, tests, and multiple regression. The regression analysis revealed that morale and the social provision of emotional attachment and morale were the strongest predictors of loneliness in the regression model (R²=.39). The results of the study partially supported the proposed model of loneliness. The findings also served to further substantiate Weiss's theory of relational provisions and the importance of various social provisions, especially attachment, in countering feelings of loneliness during widowhood in later life.
- Doctoral Dissertations