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Loneliness in Older Chilean People: Importance of Family Dysfunction and Depression

Marcela Carrasco1,*, MBeatriz Fernández2, Emma Alexander3, MSoledad Herrera2

1 School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Member of “Centro UC Estudios de Vejez y Envejecimiento”, Centre for the Study of Ageing, Santiago, 8330033, Chile
2 Institute of Sociology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Member of “Centro UC Estudios de Vejez y Envejecimiento”, Centre for the Study of Ageing, Santiago, 7820436, Chile
3 School of Medicine, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, 8330033, Chile

* Corresponding Author: Marcela Carrasco. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2021, 23(1), 99-109. https://doi.org/10.32604/IJMHP.2021.011568

Abstract

Loneliness is considered a public health problem that negatively affects wellbeing, especially in the older population. In Latin-American countries, most of the older population live with their family. Although this is thought to diminish feelings of loneliness, there is scarce data to support this. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of loneliness and evaluate its association with objective social networks, family functioning and perception of social support, in a sample of older people from Santiago, Chile. A survey was conducted of a representative sample of community older people (60–97 years) from Santiago, Chile, using the UCLA abbreviated scale of loneliness. Logistic regression was performed to test the variables related to the loneliness of older people. A total of 1,217 older people were interviewed. 88% were living with at least one person at home and 92% had living children. Using the UCLA abbreviated scale, 45% were found to perceive feelings of loneliness at least some of the time. Logistic regression showed significant association between loneliness and family dysfunction; depressive symptoms; living alone; not having a partner (widowed, separated or single); having little contact with relatives and friends; feeling a lack of social support; and sensation of poor self-efficacy. Loneliness is a prevalent public health problem in this older Latin-American community. Living accompanied does not protect against loneliness, particularly in vulnerable groups such as those with depression, or when there are family conflicts. The high prevalence of loneliness strongly conveys the need for public health policies to address loneliness in older people.

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Carrasco, M., Fernández, M., Alexander, E., Herrera, M. (2021). Loneliness in Older Chilean People: Importance of Family Dysfunction and Depression. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 23(1), 99–109.

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cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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