Comparing old and young adults as they cope with life transitions: The links between social network management skills and attachment style to depression

Omri Gillath, David K Johnson, Emre Selcuk, Cynthia Teel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Smaller social networks are associated with poorer health and well-being, especially as people negotiate life transitions. Many older adults, however, tend to have smaller networks, without the expected negative outcomes. To understand better how older adults avoid such outcomes we measured social network management skills, attachment style, and depression among individuals going through a life transition. Older adults who recently became caregivers were compared with young adults who recently transitioned to college. Although older adults initiated fewer and terminated more social ties (being selective in their choice of network members), both age groups had an equal number of close network members. A closer look revealed that securely attached older adults maintained their social ties, and in turn, sustained low levels of depression. These findings emphasize the importance of attachment style and network skills to mental health in general, and among older adults specifically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Attachment
  • Caregiver
  • Depression
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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