Negative old-age life events and well-being in later life: the moderating and mediating role of loneliness

Lise Switsers*, Eva Dierckx, Joan Domenech-Abella, Liesbeth De Donder, Sarah Dury, D-SCOPE Consortium, Anne van der Vorst, G.A.R. Zijlstra, G.I.J.M. Kempen, Jos Schols

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objectives: Although older adults often experience negative life events or loss experiences, they rarely experience large decreases in their quality of life or well-being. Emotionally satisfying relationships in older adults may serve as a protective factor that reduces the impact of negative events in decreasing well-being. The availability of these close social contacts is essential, and their potential for alleviating feelings of loneliness after negative events could have an important role in promoting well-being. The aim of this study was to test the hypothetical moderation and mediation effects of social and emotional loneliness on the occurrence of negative old-age life events and well-being in later life. Design: This was a cross-sectional survey conducted as part of the Detection, Support and Care for older people - Prevention and Empowerment research project (2015-2018). Setting: Participants were community-dwelling older adults in Flanders (Belgium). Participants: The sample composed of 770 participants aged 60 years and over. Measurements: Participant demographics, social and emotional loneliness, and subjective well-being were measured. Moderation and mediation analyses were performed using the regression-based approach as conducted by Hayes and Rockwood (2017). Results: Results indicated that a low degree of (social) loneliness is a protective, moderating factor and (emotional) loneliness is a mediating factor on the effects of negative life events on well-being in later life. Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of emotionally and socially satisfying social contacts in order to maintain positive subjective well-being in later life when negative life events may occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1041610220004196
Pages (from-to)1265-1276
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • loneliness
  • aging
  • negative life events
  • subjective well-being
  • moderation and mediation

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