Widowhood, loneliness, retirement and involuntary movements are important aspects within the study of social support for elderly persons.
Important attention has been given to research related to widowhood and its impact on the elderly.
The death of a partner at this stage of the life cycle constitutes a high risk for the mortality, morbidity and quality of life of the person who survives.
Studies show higher mortality rates in elderly widowers than in married and divorced people.
Authors such as Kasl (1977 quoted by Roca, 1999) consider the effects of grief and despair as consequences of the loss of support provided by the couple.
Recent studies consider widowhood to be a chronic stressful situation.
Its harmful effects persist over several years, reaching up to ten years in some research.
Loneliness and its harmful consequences on the health of the elderly . But it is also one of the aspects that has been most studied by researchers interested in the subject.
In this respect they agree on the idea that loneliness is the most evident lack of social support for the elderly and it carries a greater experiential connotation, manifesting itself as feelings and an attitude towards life.
It is very often accompanied by bitterness, resentment, apathy, hopelessness and the deterioration of the old man’s self-esteem.
Retirement is another event recognized as highly stressful during old age.
However, it does not appear to adversely affect health by itself. It is more related to other variables such as the conditions under which it occurred. That is, whether it is a force or a voluntary act, socio-economic status and the breakdown of social relationships.
Therefore numerous studies point to a decline in the perception of well-being among workers with low socioeconomic status and those who abandon their interpersonal relationships and social contacts as a result of retirement.
Involuntary Residential Movements
These changes can occur within the same community or towards institutions and can lead to a decrease in contact with friends, neighbours and even family and a break with the previous social network to which they were integrated and therefore brings with it the loss or variation of social support for elderly persons.