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Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging- Biological and Psychological Perspectives
Chapter 11: Social Support, Health, and Aging
-Social support is important for both mental health and physical health throughout the life
span, but it may be especially important in late life.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SOCIAL SUPPORT NETWORK
Functions of Social Support
-Three functions of social support have been identified:
oAid (instrumental help)
oAffect (emotional support)
oAffirmation (acknowledgment of ones values or agreement with ones attitudes)
Generally, instrumental support includes tangible aid.
For older people, this may be as simple as providing a ride to the
grocery store or mowing the lawn and often takes the form of help
with the tasks of daily living, such as activities of daily living
(ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
Emotional support refers to the quality of the persons
relationships with others, including empathy, caring,
companionship, love, and trust.
The intention of social support is often to alleviate the
psychological distress of the person.
Finally, affirmation is the knowledge and understanding that ones
belief’s and attitudes are similar to others, therefore providing
membership and acceptance in a group.
Social Suppor Network
-Cantor and Little (1985)- describe three levels of social support:
oInformal
oQuasi-formal
oFormal
Informal Support
-Informal support network members consist of family, friends, and neighbors.
-This group provides instrumental and emotional support, companionship, acceptance,
love, understanding, and respect.
-Primary caregivers to the elder people who needs assistance
-Daughters more likely to help parents than sons [ sons help with repairment, management
etc]
-Living alone can place a person at risk of unavailable support
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Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging- Biological and Psychological Perspectives
-Neighbours were helpful in socialization and “tension reduction”
-Men only trust and find their wives their main confidants
-Women can socially interact and share with best friends and family
-There is a difference between different ethnic backgrounds and the ways they take care of
their elderly
-African American provided higher-intensity of care
Quasi-Formal Support
-The quasi-formal support system includes community organizations and service workers.
-These are religious organizations, neighborhoods, and volunteer community interest
groups such as Lions clubs and Masons.
-The quasi-formal support system provides unpaid services to older persons, often as a
voluntary link between individuals or families and communities, providing information,
helping with transportation, or doing home repairs.
-These quasi-formal groups serve as watchdogs for the older person, noting when mail is
not picked up or a customary shopping trip missed.
-Places of worship are an important source of quasi-formal support. Synagogues,
churches, temples, and mosques provide emotional support for their members, through
spiritual connections and a sense of community.
Formal Support
-The formal support system consists of members of professional organizations who are
hired to provide care to the individual.
-These can be either private or public organizations.
-Examples of agencies that provide formal help are adult day health centers, health
clinics, respite facilities, home health care agencies, skilled nursing homes, social
services agencies, assisted-living facilities, and public health departments.
-Formal support network members give a wide spectrum of care, most of it
instrumental in nature.
-Hard for most people to live in a skilled nursing facility (SNF)
Interface of Formal and Informal Support
-It was found that informal caregivers provided the majority of care to their older relatives,
even when formal support was available.
-Recent studies substantiate that the use of formal support has minimal impact on the
amount of care given by the informal system.
-Addition of formal in-home support (e.g., personal care and bathing) to older adults with
chronic illnesses was not found to be associated with less informal care or self-care.
Families continue to provide care for their family members, even with outside help.
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Document Summary

Social support is important for both mental health and physical health throughout the life span, but it may be especially important in late life. Cantor and little (1985)- describe three levels of social support: informal, quasi-formal, formal. Informal support network members consist of family, friends, and neighbors. This group provides instrumental and emotional support, companionship, acceptance, love, understanding, and respect. Primary caregivers to the elder people who needs assistance. Daughters more likely to help parents than sons [ sons help with repairment, management etc] Living alone can place a person at risk of unavailable support www. notesolution. com. Neighbours were helpful in socialization and tension reduction . Men only trust and find their wives their main confidants. Women can socially interact and share with best friends and family. There is a difference between different ethnic backgrounds and the ways they take care of their elderly. The quasi-formal support system includes community organizations and service workers.

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