This article confronts the belief that, among elderly persons, living (in)dependently is equivalent to functioning (in)dependently. It has been examined to what degree the living situation of elderly persons (either living independently or in a residential home) affects the degree of social functioning (as indicated by the size of the personal network, participation in voluntary organizations, outdoor mobility and loneliness), when the differences in need for care and background characteristics are taken into account. Respondents were 2523 older persons between 68 and 90 years of age, who took part in the main survey of the NESTOR-programme 'Living arrangements and social networks of elderly'. Using a LISREL-model the direct effects of the living situation on the four aspects of social functioning are examined. The results indicate that, controlled for the need for care and the background characteristics, older persons living in a residential home have smaller networks, participate less in voluntary organizations, and have a lower outdoor mobility compared to independently living older adults, but are not more or less lonely. The relatively low degree of social functioning, of older persons living in a residential home can also be explained by factors as the need for care, age and partner status. The general conclusion is that living independently contributes to the maintenance of social functioning outside the home, whereas the social life of older adults in residential homes remains to a large degree 'indoors'.
|Translated title of the contribution||The relative importance of living independently for the social functioning of older adults|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie|
|Publication status||Published - 9 Sep 1996|