Graduation Year

2019

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Communication Studies

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Stephen Yoshimura, Ph.D.

Faculty Mentor Department

Communication Studies

Keywords

Social Isolation, Loneliness, Gratitude, Affection

Subject Categories

Health Communication

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the experience of social isolation and loneliness among older adults living in Missoula, Montana, and the possibility that affection and gratitude may help ameliorate these negative states. The research questions that were created for this study are: How do older adults perceive social isolation and loneliness? What experiences do elderly people associate with affection and gratitude? Do elderly individuals who are socially isolated see themselves as such? What experiences of affection and/or gratitude do elderly individuals typically remember receiving? Which persons do elderly individuals associate most strongly with feelings of affection and/or gratitude? How do elderly individuals typically handle situations where they feel socially isolated and/or lonely? To answer these questions, the researchers created interview questions that answered these queries. Then the researchers created a flyer that was distributed to several older adults through Missoula Aging Services. Thus far, over 10 older adults have been interviewed for the study. The researchers expect to find that older adults do struggle with social and isolation, and that experiences of gratitude and affection are positive and uplifting for older adults, no matter the individual differences in perceiving them. Expressing gratitude and affection is a low-cost and high benefit health practice. These two emotions have been shown to help increase feelings of well-being and have the potential to decrease the negative effects that accompany social isolation and loneliness. The researchers hope to contribute to the growing body of research about the positive effects of gratitude and affection with their findings. They also want to contribute to the field of studying older adults, since they are an understudied population.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

GLI Capstone Project

no

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© Copyright 2019 Elizabeth Sholey