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Jay Greiner


As individuals age, their likelihood of experiencing mental and physical problems increases, as does their risk of developing social isolation. Behavioral, physiological, and/or psychological changes are common manifestations of social isolation. Increased morbidity and mortality are the outcome. Ecological systems theory and social baseline theory provided the framework to explore 10 older individuals' perceptions of risk for social isolation and their perceived barriers to social integration. Data for this interpretive phenomenological study were collected from participant diaries, interviews, the 6-item de Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale (DJGLS-6), the Lubben Social Network Scale 6 (LSNS-6), a demographic survey, and a social support profile. The Colaizzi method and interpretive phenomenological analysis were used to analyze diaries and interviews. Participant demographics, DJGLS-6, LSNS-6, and social support profile data were used to enrich descriptions of the participants and find other themes. Results indicated that most participants like living alone. However, more than half reported periods of loneliness and 4 reported estrangement from an offspring. Experiences of negative age-related treatment were described by many participants and most reported that transportation and mobility issues were the biggest barriers to social integration. Additionally, many participants reported that access to planned social activities would alleviate social isolation. Implications for positive social change arise from this research in the form of increased awareness of the experiences and perceptions of older individuals at risk for social isolation. Additionally, these findings can inform future research, policy change, and strategies for social isolation interventions and prevention.

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