The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between the age-friendliness of local environments and self-reported loneliness for a representative sample of community-dwelling adults aged 55+ in Ireland.
Data were from the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative Age friendly Cities and Counties Survey (n=10,540) (2016). Several age friendly indicators, as proposed by World Health Organisation, were included in this study: outdoor spaces and buildings; access to social services; social participation; respect and social inclusion; and transport. Loneliness was measured using five items from the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Informed by an ecological approach to ageing, multi-level negative binomial regression models were used to investigate the association between each age friendly indicator and social loneliness. Models were adjusted for known demographic, socio-economic and health correlates of loneliness.
Average loneliness scores were significantly higher for those in poorer health, who lived alone, were materially deprived and those never or formerly married. Lower ratings and poorer outcomes for several interrelated age friendly place-based factors were significantly associated with higher loneliness scores: difficulty with transport, difficulty accessing social services, barriers to community activities, lower social engagement, and experiences and perceptions of ageism in the community; however, the effect sizes were small.
This study identified several modifiable age friendly features of local environments that are associated with loneliness in this older population. The results of this study can inform coordinated local and national efforts to enhance the age-friendliness of local environments and reduce the risk and experience of loneliness among the ageing population in Ireland.
Gibney, S., Moore, T. and Shannon, S. (2019), "Loneliness in later life: a cross-sectional survey analysis of place-based factors in Ireland", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 80-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-04-2018-0015
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