We review the contribution of social integration on the process of successful aging. Building on empirical findings, we describe three major challenges and potentials of social contexts that are related to the elasticity, role differentiation, and the risk potentials of social relationships in adulthood. We propose a model of aging well together that advances concepts of selection, optimization, and compensation to social aging and to the mastery of relationship demands. According to the model, individuals are choosing and seeking positive social experience, improving the fit of their social environment, and they counterbalance the risks of social contact. We provide exemplary empirical evidence for the existence of such regulatory contributions of social bonding on aging well. Several implications for researchers as well as practitioners in the field of gerontology are extracted. Future research needs to further disentangle the dynamic and complex nature of social relationship effects on positive aging.
© 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel
- Successful aging
- Social relationships
- Relationship regulation
- Aging Well Together
- Havighurst RJ, Albrecht R: Older People. New York, Longmans, Green, 1953.
- Williams RH, Wirths CG: Lives through the Years: Styles of Life and Successful Aging. Palo Alto, Atherton Press, 1965.
- Baltes MM, Carstensen LL: The process of successful ageing. Ageing Soc 1996;16:397–422.
- Lang FR: Regulation of social relationships in later adulthood. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2001;56:P321–P326.
- Tucker JS, Schwartz JE, Clark KM, Friedman HS: Age-related changes in the associations of social network ties with mortality risk. Psychol Aging 1999;14:564–571.
- Fratiglioni L, Wang HX, Ericsson K, Maytan M, Winblad B: Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: a community-based longitudinal study. Lancet 2000;355:1315–1319.
- Fratiglioni L, Paillard-Borg S, Winblad B: An active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life might protect against dementia. Lancet Neurol 2004;3:343–353.
- Rook KS: The evolution of social relationships in later adulthood; in Qualls SH, Abeles N (eds): Psychology and the Aging Revolution: How We Adapt to Longer Life. Washington, American Psychological Association, 2000, pp 173–191.
- Hoppmann CA, Gerstorf D, Luszcz M: Spousal social activity trajectories in the Australian longitudinal study of ageing in the context of cognitive, physical, and affective resources. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2008;63:P41–P50.
- Krause N: Negative interaction and satisfaction with social support among older adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 1995;50:P59–P73.
- Colcombe S, Kramer AF: Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: a meta-analytic study. Psychol Sci 2003;14:125–130.
- Landi F, Cesari M, Onder G, Lanttanzio F, Gravina EM, Bernabei R: Physical activity and mortality in frail, community-living elderly patients. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2004;59:M833–M837.
- Baltes PB, Lindenberger U: On the range of cognitive plasticity in old age as a function of experience: 15 years of intervention research. Behav Ther 1988;19:283–300.
- Fernández-Ballesteros R, Zamarrón MD, Calero MD, Tárraga L: Cognitive plasticity and cognitive impairment; in Fernández-Ballesteros R (ed): GeroPsychology. European Perspectives for an Aging World. Göttingen, Hogrefe and Huber, 2007, pp 145–164.
- Brandtstädter J, Rothermund K: Self-percepts of control in middle and later adulthood: buffering losses by rescaling goals. Psychol Aging 1994;9:265–273.
- Heckhausen J, Schulz R: A life-span theory of control. Psychol Rev 1995;102:284–304.
- Wrosch C, Miller GE, Scheier MF, Brun de Pontet S: Giving up on unattainable goals: benefits for health? Pers Soc Psychol B 2007;33:251–265.
- Antonucci TC, Jackson JS: Social support, interpersonal efficacy, and health: a life course perspective; in Carstensen LL, Edelstein BA (eds): Handbook of Clinical Gerontology. New York, Pergamon, 1987, pp 291–311.
- Cohen S, Wills TA: Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychol Bull 1985;98:310–357.
- Schwarzer R, Knoll N: Functional roles of social support within the stress and coping process: a theoretical and empirical overview. Int J Psychol 2007;42:243–252.
- Seeman T: How do others get under our skin? Social relationships and health; in Ryff CD, Singer BH (eds): Emotion, Social Relationships, and Health. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp 188–210.
- Baltes PB, Baltes MM: Psychological perspectives on successful aging: the model of selective optimization with compensation; in Baltes PB, Baltes MM (eds): Successful Aging: Perspectives from the Behavioral Sciences. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp 1–34.
- Freund AM, Baltes PB: Selection, optimization, and compensation as strategies of life management: correlations with subjective indicators of successful aging. Psychol Aging 1998;13:531–543.
- Fredrickson BL, Carstensen LL: Choosing social partners: how old age and anticipated endings make people more selective. Psychol Aging 1990;5:335–347.
- Fiori KL, Smith J, Antonucci TC: Social network types among older adults: a multidimensional approach. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2007;62:P322–P330.
- Ackerman JM, Kenrick DT: The costs of benefits: help-refusals highlight key trade-offs of social life. Pers Soc Psychol Rev 2008;12:118–140.
- Antonucci TC, Akiyama H: Social networks in adult life and a preliminary examination of the Convoy model. J Gerontol 1987;42:519–527.
- Lang FR, Reschke FS, Neyer FJ: Social relationships, transitions and personality development across the life span; in Mroczek DK, Little TD (eds): Handbook of Personality Development. Mahwah, Erlbaum, 2006, pp 445–466.
- Neyer FJ, Lang FR: Blood is thicker than water: kinship orientation across adulthood. J Pers Soc Psychol 2003;84:310–321.
- Rook KS: Reciprocity of social exchange and social satisfaction among older women. J Pers Soc Psychol 1987;52:145–154.
- Dykstra PA: The differential availability of relationships and the provision and effectiveness of support to older adults. J Soc Pers Relat 1993;10:355–370.
- Franks MM, Stephens MAP, Rook KS, Franklin BA, Keteyian SJ, Artinian NT: Spouses’ provision of health-related support and control to patients participating in cardiac rehabilitation. J Fam Psychol 2006;20:311–318.
- Seeman TE, Bruce ML, McAvay GJ: Social network characteristics and onset of ADL disability: MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 1996;51:S191–S200.
- Baltes MM: The Many Faces of Dependency in Old Age. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1996.
- Baltes MM, Carstensen LL: Gutes Leben im Alter: Überlegungen zu einem prozessorientierten Metamodell erfolgreichen Alterns. Psychol Rundsch 1996;47:199–215.
- Baltes MM, Lang FR: Everyday functioning and successful aging: the impact of resources. Psychol Aging 1997;12:433–443.
- Lang FR, Rieckman N, Baltes MM: Adapting to aging losses: do resources facilitate strategies of selection, compensation, and optimization in everyday functioning? J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2002;57:P501–P509.
- Hansson RO, Carpenter BN: Relationships in Old Age. Coping with the Challenge of Transition. New York, Guilford Press, 1994.
- Lansford JE, Sherman AM, Antonucci TC: Satisfaction with social networks: an examination of socioemotional selectivity theory across cohorts. Psychol Aging 1998;13:544–552.
- Blieszner R: A lifetime of caring: dimensions and dynamics in late-life close relationships. Pers Relationship 2006;13:1–18.
- Lang FR, Baltes MM: Being with people and being alone in late life: costs and benefits for everyday functioning. Int J Behav Dev 1997;21:729–746.
- Lang FR: Endings and continuity of social relationships: maximizing intrinsic benefits within personal networks when feeling near to death? J Soc Pers Relat 2000;17:157–184.
- Lang FR, Carstensen LL: Time counts: future time perspective, goals, and social relationships. Psychol Aging 2002;17:125–139.
- Carstensen LL, Fung HH, Charles S: Socioemotional selectivity theory and the regulation of emotion in the second half of life. Motiv Emotion 2003;27:103–123.
- Pin S, Guilley E, Spini D, Lalive d’Epinay C: The impact of social relationships on the maintenance of independence in old age. Z Gerontol Geriatr 2005;38:203–209.
- Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Skoner DP, Rabin BS, Gwaltney JM: Social ties and susceptibility to the common cold. JAMA 1997;277:1940–1944.
- Seeman TE, Berkman LF, Charpentier PA, Blazer DG, Albert MS, Tinetti ME: Behavioral and psychosocial predictors of physical performance: MacArthur studies of successful aging. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 1995;50:M177–M183.
- Litwin H, Shiovitz-Ezra S: Network type and mortality risk in later life. Gerontologist 2006;46:735–743.
- Lövdén M, Ghisletta P, Lindenberger U: Social participation attenuates decline in perceptual speed in old and very old age. Psychol Aging 2005;20:423–434.
- Ryff CD, Singer BH: Social environments and the genetics of aging: advancing knowledge of protective health mechanisms. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2005;Special Issue 1, 60:12–23.
- Carstensen LL, Isaacowitz DM, Charles ST: Taking time seriously. A theory of socioemotional selectivity. Am Psychol 1999;54:165–181.
- Dixon RA, Gould ON: Younger and older adults collaborating on retelling everyday stories. Appl Dev Sci 1998;2:160–171.
- Megan SP, Berg CA: Contexts, functions, forms, and processes of collaborative everyday problem solving in older adulthood. Int J Behav Dev 2002;26:6–15.
- De Castro JM: Age-related changes in the social, psychological, and temporal influences on food intake in free-living, healthy, adult humans. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002;57:M368–M377.
- De Castro JM: Socio-cultural determinants of meal size and frequency. Br J Nutr 1997;77(suppl 1):39–55.
- Nijs KA, de Graaf C, Kok FJ, van Staveren WA: Effect of family style mealtimes on quality of life, physical performance, and body weight of nursing home residents: cluster randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2006;332:1180–1184.
- Eyler AA, Brownson RC, Donatelle RJ, King AC, Brown D, Sallis JF: Physical activity social support and middle- and older-aged minority women: results from a US survey. Soc Sci Med 1999;49:781–789.
- Sallis JF, Hovell MF, Hofstetter CR, Faucher P, Elder JP, Blanchard J, Caspersen CJ, Powell KE, Christenson GM: A multivariate study of determinants of vigorous exercise in a community sample. Prev Med 1989;18:20–34.
- Ståhl T, Rütten A, Nutbeam D, Bauman A, Kannas L, Abel T, Lüschen G, Rodriquez DJA, Vinck J, van der Zee J: The importance of the social environment for physically active lifestyle – results from an international study. Soc Sci Med 2001;52:1–10.
- Harvey JH, Wenzel A: Theoretical perspectives in the study of close relationships; in Vangelisti AL, Perlman D (eds): The Cambridge Handbook of Close Relationships. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp 35–49.
- Ikkink KK, van Tilburg T: Do older adults’ network members continue to provide instrumental support in unbalanced relationships? J Soc Pers Relat 1998;15:59–75.
- Finch JF, Okun MA, Barrera M, Zautra AJ, Reich JW: Positive and negative social ties among older adults: measurement models and the prediction of psychological distress and well-being. Am J Commun Psychol 1989;17:585–605.
- Newsom JT, Mahan TL, Rook KS, Krause N: Stable Negative Social Exchanges and Health. Health Psychol 2008;27:78–86.
- Rook KS: The negative side of social interaction: impact on psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol 1984;46:1097–1108.
- Rook KS, Mavandadi S, Sorkin D, Zettel LA: Optimizing social relationships as a resource for health and well-being in later life; in Aldwin CM, Park CL, Spiro A III (eds): Handbook of Health Psychology and Aging. New York, Guilford Press, 2007, pp 267–285.
- Levenson RW, Carstensen LL, Gottman JM: Influence of age and gender on affect, physiology, and their interrelations: a study of long-term marriages. J Pers Soc Psychol 1994;67:56–68.
- Birditt K, Fingerman K, Almeida D: Age differences in exposure and reactions to interpersonal tension: a daily diary study. Psychol Aging 2005;20:330–340.
- Sorkin DH, Rook KS: Interpersonal control strivings and vulnerability to negative social exchanges in later life. Psychol Aging 2004;19:555–564.
- Wisocki PA, Averill JR: The challenge of bereavement; in Carstensen LL, Edelstein BA (eds): Handbook of Clinical Gerontology. New York, Pergamon, 1987, pp 312–321.
- Guiaux M, van Tilburg T, Broese van Groenou M: Changes in contact and support exchange in personal networks after widowhood. Pers Relat 2007;14:457–473.
- Li Y: Recovering from spousal bereavement in later life: does volunteer participation play a role? J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2007;62:S257–S266.
- Zettel LA, Rook KS: Substitution and compensation in the social networks of older widowed women. Psychol Aging 2004;19:433–443.
- Carr D, House JS, Kessler RC, Nesse RM, Sonnega J, Wortman C: Marital quality and psychological adjustment to widowhood among older adults: a longitudinal analysis. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2000;55:S197–S207.
- Utz RL, Carr D, Nesse R, Wortman CB: The effect of widowhood on older adults’ social participation: an evaluation of activity, disengagement, and continuity theories. Gerontologist 2002;42:522–533.
- Ko KJ, Berg CA, Butner J, Uchino BN, Smith TW: Profiles of successful aging in middle-aged and older married couples. Psychol Aging 2007;22:705–718.
- Harwood J, Giles H: Reactions to older people being patronized. The roles of response strategies and attributed thoughts. J Lang Soc Psychol 1996;15:395–421.
- Ryan EB, Kennaley DE, Pratt MW, Shumovich MA: Evaluations by staff, residents, and community seniors of patronizing speech in nursing home: impact of passive, assertive, or humorous responses. Psychol Aging 2000;15:272–285.
Frieder R. Lang
Institute of Psychogerontology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
DE–91052 Erlangen (Germany)
Tel. +49 9131 852 6526, Fax +49 9131 852 6554, E-Mail email@example.com
Received: October 16, 2008
Accepted: January 5, 2009
Published online: April 7, 2009
Number of Print Pages : 11
Number of Figures : 1, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 77
Gerontology (International Journal of Experimental, Clinical, Behavioural and Technological Gerontology)
Vol. 55, No. 3, Year 2009 (Cover Date: May 2009)
Journal Editor: Wick G. (Innsbruck)
ISSN: 0304-324X (Print), eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.