Coping with loneliness: what do older adults suggest?

E. Schoenmakers, T. van Tilburg, C.M. Fokkema

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: A limited amount of information is available on how older adults cope with loneliness. Two ways of coping are distinguished here, i.e., active coping by improving relationships and regulative coping by lowering expectations about relationships. We explore how often older adults suggest these options to their lonely peers in various situations and to what extent individual resources influence their suggestions. Method: After introducing them to four vignettes of lonely individuals, discriminating with regard to age, partner status, and health, 1187 respondents aged 62–100 from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam were asked whether this loneliness can be alleviated by using various ways of coping. Results: In general, both ways of coping were often suggested. However, regression analyses revealed that active coping was suggested less often to people who are older, in poor health, or lonely and by older adults who were employed in midlife and have high self-esteem. Regulative coping was suggested more often to people who are older and by older adults with a low educational level and with low mastery. Conclusions: Coping with loneliness by actively removing the stressor is less often seen as an option for and by the people who could benefit most from it. This underlines the difficulty of combating loneliness. keywords: coping; loneliness; older adults; individual resources
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-360
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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