Describing the social environment of elderly persons at the time of death

Perla Werner, Ehud Miron, Michal Schnaider Beeri, Michael Davidson, Shlomo Noy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: To describe the social environment of elderly persons at the time of their death and its correlates. Design: Telephone interviews with the next-of-kin of deceased elderly persons. Participants: Potential participants were the next-of-kin of all Jewish elderly individuals who died during the course of one year in a major city in the northern part of Israel. The final sample included 139 participants (58% response rate; 70% cooperation rate). Measurements: Information was collected regarding the decedents' social environment three days before their death and at the time of death. Eight types of informal sources of support and four sources of formal support were examined. The correlates examined included the decedents' demographic, health, social, and death characteristics. Results: The majority of the decedents died while surrounded by at least one family member. Having a larger social network was associated with a larger number of persons present at the time of death. Being informed about the impending death was associated with a larger number of persons from the formal and informal networks present at the time of death. Conclusions: The common fear of dying alone and isolated was not confirmed by this study. Increased efforts should be invested in helping professionals to deal with the difficulties inherent to the process of diagnosing an upcoming death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes

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