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Over 75s who care for others and see grandchildren have a better quality of life, says new research


Elderly carers have larger social networks and are not as lonely as other people in their age group, according to a paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. They also tend to be healthier and have a better quality of life.

A study of 4,278 people aged 75 and over showed strong links between loneliness, a weak social network and low mental quality of life.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden also reported that women were more likely to report frequent and intense loneliness than men. “Just under one in five of the people who completed the postal questionnaire and health survey (18 per cent) provided care for another person” says the paper’s lead author Anna Ekwall. “63 per cent of carers said they had not felt lonely during the last year compared with 44 per cent of non carers.

“People who felt they had a poor physical quality of life said that a weak economic situation and wanting more contact with grandchildren were the two most negative factors in their lives.”

Other findings included:

  • 81 per cent of carers reported that their health was “good” or “quite good” compared with 74 per cent of non carers.
  • 59 per cent of carers had more than three people in their social network compared with 52 per cent of non carers.
  • Eight per cent of carers experienced “recurrent” or “constant” feelings of loneliness, compared with 16 per cent of non carers.

“Being aware of the negative effects that loneliness and small social networks have on quality of life is important for those who work with older people” concludes Anna Ekwall.

Annette Whibley | alfa
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