This paper examines the impact over time of changes in older people's health and functional capacity on the size and effectiveness of their informal helping networks. Theoretical perspectives on networks differ in their predictions regarding the impact of declines in health on network size. Previous empirical studies have not examined the effects of changes in health on the size of networks. We examine empirical evidence on the impact of health changes on informal helping networks with longitudinal data obtained from a probability sample of older people living in the community. Results suggest that networks respond to diminishing health by increasing the scope of assistance provided but neither increase nor decrease in size as a consequence. The results also suggest that declines in functioning can produce increases in needs which exceed the capacity of informal networks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health