Social isolation and loneliness among centenarians living at home and in long-term care facilities: Results from the SWISS100 study

Zaccaria, Daniele and Cavalli, Stefano and Masotti, Barbara and Lampraki, Charikleia and Hermann, Francois and von Gunten, Armin and Jopp, Daniela (2022) Social isolation and loneliness among centenarians living at home and in long-term care facilities: Results from the SWISS100 study. In: ESA RN01 Midterm Conference, 15.07.2022, Vienna, Austria. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Living environments affect levels of social isolation and loneliness. The oldest-old are particularly at risk of being socially isolated and lonely. In addition, living in long-term care facilities is associated with a higher risk of social exclusion. However, research comparing the noninstitutionalised and institutionalised oldest-old, a typical “hard to reach” population, is limited. We investigate sociodemographic and health correlates of social isolation and loneliness in institutionalised and home-dwelling centenarians and the influence of institutionalisation per se. Data were collected in 2021 through phone interviews in the context of SWISS100, an ongoing study of centenarians living in Switzerland. The sample included 71 institutionalised and 55 home-dwelling centenarians recruited via in-person or proxy interviews. We applied descriptive statistics to evaluate differences in social isolation and loneliness between institutionalised and home-dwelling centenarians and ordered logistic regression models to assess the association between isolation and loneliness and individual characteristics (e.g. education, subjective health). On average, institutionalised centenarians reported fewer social contacts and higher loneliness than home-dwelling ones. Sociodemographic and health indicators differentially explained social isolation and loneliness in these two populations. Furthermore, institutionalisation per se showed a significant effect on loneliness but not on social isolation. Our findings show that living settings shape centenarians’ levels of social isolation and loneliness, differentiating the contribution of personal determinants. Furthermore, living in long-term care facilities plays by itself an independent role in influencing loneliness. This prompts considering carefully the living environment when analysing determinants of social exclusion of the very old

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