P.K.C.TAY1, C.F.SONG1, S.L.WEE1, T.P.NG2
Singapore Institute of Technology1, National University of Singapore2
Social connectedness has been defined in several ways and affect physical health differently. Few studies have attempted to identify subgroups among older adults based on their social connectedness profiles and examine the effect on mortality and frailty longitudinally. Furthermore, these studies did not differentiate social connectedness between social relationships and/or included social activities participation in the community. This study aims to bridge these gaps in literature.
Using the data from the Singapore Longitudinal Aging Study (SLAS), a typology of social connectedness for community-dwelling older adults in Singapore (N=6073) was generated based on latent class analysis for social network types, social activities, marital status and living arrangement.
We identified six subgroups of older adults: Diverse and rich (6.9%), Community-oriented (11.9%), Moderate (16.9%), Kin and friends oriented (45.7%), Limited (11.3%), and Minimal (7.2%). Multinomial logistic regression showed that at 3-5 years follow-up, individuals in the ‘Minimal’ group were more likely to have deceased compared to those in the ‘Diverse and rich’ group. However, this association is no longer significant when frailty was included in the model. Additionally, older adults in the ‘Minimal,’ ‘Limited,’ and ‘Kin and friend oriented’ groups were frailer at follow-up compared to the ‘Diverse and rich’ group.
It has long been known that social connectedness exerts long-term effects on a person’s physical health outcomes. Our study further clarified that social connectedness across individuals are nuanced and while familial and significant other connections are key to good health outcomes, non-familial effects can nevertheless provide some buffers against adverse health outcomes.