142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Social Capital and Mental Well-Being in Assisted Living Residents

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sarah Walsh, PhD, MPH, CHES , College of Health and Human Services, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI
A. Scott LaJoie, PhD, MSPH , School of Public Health and Information Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Along the continuum of poor to good health, mental well-being refers to the positive state of being.  Mental well-being connotes the ability to manage stress, maintain independence, and is indicative of happiness and improved quality of life.  Mental well-being is critical to overall health throughout the lifespan, but it is of particular importance in the context of healthy aging since older adults may be more likely to experience compromised mental health.  Existing research has demonstrated that social capital is associated with overall health status and the incidence of mental illness.  This study explored the relationship between social capital and mental wellness, currently a gap in the literature.  Seventy-six older adults residing in assisted living facilities in Greater Louisville were surveyed about their perceptions of trust and reciprocity in their community, as well as their overall health and mental well-being.  There was a small but statistically significant positive correlation between social capital and mental well-being for the study population.  The coefficient of determination for this analysis, R2 = 0.21, indicates that social capital explains 21% of variation in mental well-being for the study population. This study demonstrates that social capital is associated with mental wellness.  In light of this, assisted living administrators and researchers should evaluate the impact of their facility design and programmatic offerings on resident social capital.  Informal gathering areas and spaces which promote chance encounters may help residents maintain their pre-existing community ties as well as forge new relationships.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between social capital and mental well-being for older adults.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Well-Being

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I collected and analyzed this data as part of my dissertation research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.