Associated Study: Social isolation in older adults

This Associated Study used Understanding Society and the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study Wales to explore older adult's explanations of why they do not seek or receive assistance from services or other sources.

This Associated Study was carried out by: 

  • Amanda Sacker, ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health, University College London
  • Catherine Macleod, DSDC Wales, School of Healthcare Sciences, Bangor University
  • Andy Ross, ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health, University College London
  • Gill Windle, DSDC Wales, School of Healthcare Sciences, Bangor University
  • Gopel Netuveli, Institute of Health and Human Development, University of East London

Existing health behaviour models inadequately explain individuals’ behaviour prior to or in the absence of contact with services. Yet understanding why older people do not seek assistance is crucial to the development of policies and services that enable local government to meet their obligations to provide preventative care packages. Using qualitative methods, with samples from both Understanding Society and CFAS Wales, the research explored older adults’ explanations of why they do not seek or receive assistance from services or other sources. The team identified a recursive process whereby participants assessed their need for assistance on an issue-by-issue basis. Participants described responding to emerging needs with avoidant behaviours, modifying expectations and their own solutions, only pursuing assistance when these strategies were no longer possible, and crucially, when they were prepared to admit that they needed assistance. These findings demonstrate how older adults’ responses to emerging needs might deter them from taking-up assistance, putting them at risk for emergency intervention and presenting a serious challenge for local authorities’ planning and development of appropriate policies and services.

Read the research

Krysia Canvin, Catherine A MacLeod, Gill Windle, Amanda Sacker; Seeking assistance in later life: how do older people evaluate their need for assistance?, Age and Ageing, Volume 47, Issue 3, 1 May 2018, Pages 466–473, https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afx189

What is an Associated Study?

An Associated Study is an opportunity for individual researchers or organisations to collect information from Understanding Society respondents that has not already been asked in the survey. They provide the opportunity for new cross-disciplinary and mixed methods research.