HLTB01H3F: Health, Aging and the Life Cycle
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 one’s values or agreement with one’s 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 person’s 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 one’s 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:
•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
•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
•African American provided higher-intensity of care