Informal Support as an Influential Factor in Elderly Women′s Health: The Importance of Same-Sex Friendship in US

  • Kim, Jeoung-Hee (Dept. of Environment and Health, KwangJu Women's University)
  • Published : 1999.12.01


It is known that the role of informal support for elderly women is critical to their physical and mental health, adjustment in old age, and their overall life satisfaction. Elderly women's situation such as social losses, widowhood, living alone, and geographic relocation etc. may result in a need for more informal supports for elderly women's health than ever before. Particularly, women's same-sex friendships were rated higher for overall quality, intimacy, enjoyment, and nurturance. Unlike a generally accepted notion that later life for women is a time of isolation and loneliness, elderly women tend to maintain and reestablish their friendship regardless their marital status and living situation. Although studies on informal support for elderly women were inconclusive in many ways, elderly women's friendship tends to be stable despite of changing health status and life events. The relative importance between daughters and friends was also controversial. This study suggests that more research with reliable measurements is necessary for the practical prevention and intervention program of elderly women's health on this issue.