Social Supports are Critical to Older Adults


SocialSupports are Critical to Older Adults

SocialSupports are Critical to Older Adults

Informalsocial supports are critical to the well being of the older adultsbecause they provide social support that the formal care systemscannot provide. At the same time, the social support has benefitsthat accrue to both the aged adult and the social networks that takethe responsibility of caring. Informal social supports are theservices of care that are provided by the social networks of thepeople related to the aged adults (Lecture4, 2015).These services are provided by family members, relatives and friendsin the community. The discussion on social support will illustratetheir potential benefits and understand the people who provide them.Moreover, the understanding of the social support will inform thesuggestion of how it might change with age.

Oneof the benefits of social supports is the psychological comfort thatcomes with the emotional care provided by friends and family. Socialsupport has the emotional connection between the caregiver and theelderly person. This leads to increased morale, reduced depression,self confidence and reduces anxiety (Lecture 4, 2015). This isbecause the caregiver is the person who is well known to the elderlyperson and has a history of interacting together (Binstock &ampLinda, 2006). For instance, when an elderly person chats with thefamily member, there is a deeper connection that goes beyond justinteraction. Such an emotional benefit cannot be provided by theformalized professional caregivers because of the lack of the socialtie. This makes social support critical to the well being of theolder adults.

Theother benefit is the greater extent of care that is provided by thesocial support. The providers of social support give more than justbasic care to the older adult. They provide both the physical careand the financial support whenever a need arises on the day to daylife of the elderly (Binstock &amp Linda, 2006). When family membersand friends are involved in the caring of an older adult, they areable to identify all of his or her needs in time, and provide thempromptly.

Inaddition, social benefit provides a better support because theyunderstand the social, health and physical history of the olderadult. The care of family members reduces chances of disability anddeath (Lecture 4, 2015). This is because family members and friendsunderstand the moods, the mental state and the social needs of theolder adult more than the professional caregivers do. This improvestheir cognitive abilities of the older adults (Lecture 4, 2015). As aresult, they are able to give a better company, better socialinteraction and conversations compared to the formal support. Thismakes social support more critical to the well being of the olderadults as they identify more with the social support.

Socialsupport is commonly offered by the family of the aged person as theprimary care givers. They are the closest people near the agedperson, and have the proximity to the old man or lady. The firstlevel of the family members includes the sons and daughters of theaged person (Lecture 4, 2015). They are the most immediate sources ofsocial support as they are the most closely related to the elderly.

Theother level is that of relatives, including siblings of the elderlyperson. However, the grandchildren of the elderly person form asignificant source of social support, because most of them live withgrandparents (Generations United, 2015). According to GenerationsUnited (2015), around 2.7 million children live in grand families. 4%of these grandchildren were brought up by the grandparents (Lecture4, 2015). This means that they can provide social support to theelderly in these families.

Otherproviders of social support are friends and social networks away fromthe family. These give the emotional and psychological supportthrough visits and chats. They help the old man or lady to feelconnected ad loved by people beyond the family. According to Binstockand Linda (2006), the social interaction between the older person andthe friends in the society improves their esteem and promotes theirwell being. Other forms of social supports include informal servicesby informal organizations in the society such as churches andcommunity support groups.

However,as the older adult ages, the social support needs change with time.The social supports change by decreasing in terms of significance andcontribution to the well being of the elderly. This happens when theolder adult requires specialized care, such as health needs resultingfrom health challenges that are associated with old age (Binstock &ampLinda, 2006). If such an older adult was being cared for by a familymember, he or she will need the services of a specialized care giveror a health practitioner. This reduces the amount of social supportthat is needed by the older adult. However, this decrease does noteliminate the need for social support as it is critical whether theolder adult needs specialized care or not.

Socialsupport provides unique benefits to the older adults that cannot beprovided by the formal caregivers. The informal social supportprovides psychological and emotional satisfaction to an older adultthat he has people loving him or her. Social support also providesmore than physical support by meeting needs as they arise, inaddition to the provision of a close connection with the older adult.Moreover, the social support givers understand the history of theelderly better than the formal support. However, as the older adultages, the contribution of the social support reduces as the elderlyrequire more specialized care. Despite this, the benefits and theneed for social supports make them critical to the well being of theolder adults.


Binstock,R.H., &amp Linda K.G. (2006). Handbookof Aging and the Social Sciences.Burlington, MA: Academic Press

GenerationsUnited, 2015, GrandfamiliesStatistics.Retrieved From,&lt 10, 2015

Lecture4, 2015, Lesson 4: The Social Context of Aging: Importance of SocialSupports.ClassNotes,2015Pearson Education, Inc,2/17/2015