The social world of older adults is varied. In general, older adults place a high value on
spending time with friends, sometimes more so than time with family. This might be
because of life events wherein family members are not always nearby or readily available.
Also, many elders prefer not to interfere with or be a burden to their extended family.
They strive to be independent and enjoy life with members of their own cohort. Within
a marriage, couples may have trouble adjusting to retirement. This is most true for more
traditional marriages. However, evidence suggests that married persons tend to be
happier in late adulthood than single persons, though those who have never married
often cope the best with feelings of loneliness in late life.
Stability and Change in Self-Concept and Personality
Secure and Multifaceted Self-Concept- after a lifetime of self-knowledge, people
feel more secure about whom they are, and their self-concepts become more complex
Agreeableness, Sociability, and Acceptance of Change – there are 3 shifts in
personality at this point: a more flexible and optimist approach to life is present.
Agreeableness – generosity, acquiescence, and good-naturedness are higher for
many people at this point.
Sociability drops to some extent, as people become more selective about relationships
and significant people die or move away.
Acceptance of change seems to link to well-being. They develop a capacity to accept
life’s vagaries, and they are resilient in the face of adversity.
Spirituality and Religiosity – their sense of spirituality encompasses their lives more
meaningfully. Often there develops a sense of truth and beauty in art, nature, and
relationships. Religion gives people rituals that stabilise life and give meaning to the life
struggle. Spirituality advances to a higher level in late life- to a more reflective approach
that is more at ease with the unknowable aspects of life.
Relationships in Late Adulthood
Social convoy is a cluster of family members and friends who provide safety and
support. Some bonds become closer with age, others more distant, a few are gained,
and some drift away. Elders do try to maintain social networks of family and friends to
preserve security and life continuity.
Marriage – marital satisfaction rises from middle to late adulthood if perceptions of
fairness in the relationship increase. If couples engage in joint leisure activities and enjoy
more positive communication, their relationships become more satisfying.
Siblings- Bonds with sisters are generally closer than those with brothers. Siblings
enjoy reminiscing as they enter later adulthood. This allows them to feel a family continuity
and harmony, as well as begin to put their lives into a perspective as they naturally do a
Friendships function to offer intimacy and companionship, acceptance, a link to the
larger community, and protection from the toll of loss- physical and emotional. Women
are more likely to have both intimate friends and secondary friends- people who are
acquaintances they do some activities with occasionally.
Retirement and Leisure
Decision to retire depends on affordability, health status, opportunities to pursue
meaningful activities, early retirement benefits, gender and ethnicity. Women retire earlier
than most men because of family demands.
Adjustment to Retirement is affected by health status, financial stability, sense of
personal control over life events, including the retirement decision, characteristics of the
work they did, satisfaction derived from work, social support and marital happiness.
Leisure Activities engaged in relate to physical and mental health, but they also relate
to reduced mortality. It is best to develop hobbies and interests and volunteer activities
before retirement that can be invested in more seriously after retirement.
Successful ageing occurs when elders have developed many ways to minimize losses
and maximise gains. Social contexts can foster successful ageing. These are such things
as well-funded social security plans, good health care, safe housing that adjusts to
changes in elders’ needs, social services, opportunities for lifelong learning. Better in home help, adapted housing and sensitive nursing home care could make a difference in ageing, too