Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Sharon K. Patten, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Maria C. Dinis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mariah J. Danielson, MSW, LGSW


This exploratory and descriptive qualitative study was undertaken to examine the nature of social and emotional isolation as it impacts older adults by examining the coping mechanisms they use. The participants (N=15), clients of Senior Community Services and CommonBond Communities, completed a structured interview consisting of nineteen primarily open-ended questions. The study looked at the issues of social and emotional isolation as it was identified by participants, the amount of support they received, and the methods they used to cope with any recognized feelings of isolation. The survey identified those persons involved in the senior's life, how frequently contact was available, and how involvement in activities affected older adults. Theories, including stress and coping, activity, and convoy of social relations were used to explore the relationship between aging and coping with social and emotional isolation. The findings of this study suggest that adults over age 70 do experience feelings of loneliness at times. They have frequent contact with other people and have supportive people in their lives. They find ways to deal with their loneliness, usually choosing solitary activities such as television or reading. The results provide implications for future social work in the delivery of services to older adults.


SC 11.MSW.1998.Dechmann.P

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Social Work Commons