Social Support and Sense of Loneliness in Solitary Older Adults

  • Xue BaiEmail author
  • Shuyan Yang
  • Fu Lee Wang
  • Martin Knapp
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10108)


Older people are vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Solitary seniors are more likely to suffer the feelings of loneliness with inadequate social networks. Based on a face-to-face questionnaire survey with 151 community-dwelling solitary seniors, the present study examined the associations between social support and the sense of loneliness among solitary older adults in Hong Kong. The results showed that poor mental health status, financial inadequacy and weak social support networks were significantly associated with the sense of loneliness of solitary older adults, with social support being the most prominent risk factor. Frequent contacts with siblings, relatives or friends were found to be important sources of social support to combat loneliness. Policy and service implications are discussed.


Loneliness Social support Hong kong Solidary older chinese 



The work described in this study was supported by a grant from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (1-ZVGD) and a grant from Research Grants Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (UGC/IDS11/15).


  1. 1.
    Census-and-Statistics-Department. Hong Kong Population Projections 2015–2064. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2015)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Census-and-Statistics-Department. Population Census Thematic Report: Older Persons. In: Department of Census and statistics (ed.) Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2013)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chen, Y., Hicks, A., While, A.E.: Loneliness and social support of older people in China: a systematic literature review. Health Soc. Care Community 22, 113–123 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chen, Y., Hicks, A., While, A.E.: Quality of life and related factors: a questionnaire survey of older people living alone in mainland China. Qual. Life Res. 23, 1593–1602 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Netz, Y., Goldsmith, R., Shimony, T., Arnon, M., Zeev, A.: Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of sedentary life in older israelis. Aging Mental Health 17, 40–47 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Adams, K.B., Sanders, S., Auth, E.A.: Loneliness and depression in independent living retirement communities: risk and resilience factors. Aging Mental Health 8, 475–485 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lawton, M.P., Brody, E.M.: Assessment of older people: self-maintaining and instrumental activities of daily living. Nurs. Res. 19, 278 (1970)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Veit, C.T., Ware, J.E.: The structure of psychological distress and well-being in general populations. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 51, 730–742 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chi, I., Yip, P.S.F., Chiu, H.F.K., Chou, K.L., Chan, K.S., Chi, W.K., Conwell, Y., Caine, E.: Prevalence of depression and its correlates in Hong Kong’s Chinese older adults. Am. J. Geriatr. Psychiatry 13, 409–416 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lubben, J.E.: Assessing social networks among elderly populations. Family Community Health 11, 42–52 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Shi, Y.Z.: The development of elderly loneliness scale. J. Family Educ. Bimonthy 16, 74–95 (2008). (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    De Jong Gierveld, J., Keating, N., Fast, J.E.: Determinants of loneliness among older adults in Canada. Can. J. Aging 34, 125–136 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rodrigues, M.M.S., De Jong Gierveld, J., Buz, J.: Loneliness and the exchange of social support among older adults in spain and the Netherlands. Ageing and Soc. 34, 330–354 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    White, H., McConnell, E., Clipp, E., Bynum, L., Teague, C., Navas, L., Craven, S., Halbrecht, H.: Surfing the net in later life: a review of the literature and pilot study of computer use and quality of life. J. Appl. Gerontol. 18, 358–378 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bai, X.: Alignment or struggle? Exploring socio-demographic correlates of individual modernity in Chinese older people. Ageing Soc. 36, 133–159 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xue Bai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shuyan Yang
    • 2
  • Fu Lee Wang
    • 3
  • Martin Knapp
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Applied Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Caritas Institute of Higher EducationHong KongChina
  4. 4.Personal Social Services Research UnitLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

Personalised recommendations