Qualities of Older Adults’ Family and Friendship Relationships and Their Association with Life Satisfaction

Elias Mpofu, Rong Fang Zhan, Cheng Yin, Kaye Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While family and friendship relationship qualities are associated with life satisfaction, evidence on how these types of relationships interact to contribute to older adults’ life satisfaction is sparse. This study examined how family and friendship relationship qualities may be supportive of (compensatory) or conflict with (competing) older adults’ life satisfaction. We adopted a cross-sectional design to analyze data from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 1178, females = 54.8%, mean age = 67.9 years, SD = 9.3 years) to examine compensatory (as in social support) and competing (as in social strain) qualities of family and friendship social relationships and their association with life satisfaction in older adults. For greater explanatory power, we also controlled for life satisfaction by sociodemographic variables of age, gender, education, self-reported general health, physical health and activity, depression, and personality traits. Our findings indicate that the spouse/partner support relationship contributes to older adults’ life satisfaction overall and is associated with greater social support and less social strain. Friendship support is associated with improved life satisfaction for older adults reporting spouse/partner strain. Relationship support for the life satisfaction of older adults should consider their need for social support from their social network while minimizing the risk of social strain from adversarial relationships in life situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Keywords

  • family relationship quality
  • friendship quality
  • interaction
  • life satisfaction
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health (social science)
  • Aging
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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