The present study evaluated a social network typology of continuing care retirement community (CCRC) residents and examined it against their physical and emotional wellbeing. The social network typology was constructed, using a name-generator, followed by detailed questions about the characteristics of the individuals who make up the network and the nature of the relationship with them. Latent profile analysis was used to develop a typology of the social network in the CCRC. A two-profile solution had the best fit to the data (Entorpy = .955, BIC = 3178.397). This solution consisted of a friends-based network (N = 97), and a child-based network (N = 108). The two networks differed on most constituent variables used for the creation of the two profiles (e.g., overall network size, proportion of friends, family members and spouse in the network). The two profiles did not differ in terms of the number of medical conditions, impairment in activities of daily living, wellbeing, and loneliness. Possibly, compared with the community, network type plays a lesser role in the CCRC because of its social characteristics and attempt to meet older adults’ social needs.
A growing number of studies in the field of gerontology has examined older adults’ social network typology (Fiori, Antonucci, & Akiyama, 2008; Li & Zhang, 2015; Litwin & Shiovitz-Ezra, 2011). This profound body of literature has generally divided the social network of older adults according to its composition, identifying four or five different types of networks: diverse, friend, family, congregate, restricted (Litwin & Shiovitz-Ezra, 2011; Litwin, 2001). A socially restricted network usually fairs worse than all other networks, whereas a diversenetwork, composed of friends and family members as well as networks, which are based solely on friends have resulted in the best health and mental health outcomes. This typology of the social network has varied somewhat across different cultures and countries (Fiori et al., 2008; Litwin, 2001). Nevertheless, its association with a variety of outcomes, including mortality, morale, anxiety, depression, and health behaviors has remained largely persistent (García, Banegas, Pérez-Regadera, Cabrera, & Rodriguez-Artalejo, 2005; Park, Smith, & Dunkle, 2014). 1.1. Social networks in the continuing care retirement community Although the current body of literature on social networks is impressive in its depth and breadth, we know little about older adults’ social networks in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) (Schafer, 2011; Stacey-Konnert & Pynoos, 1992). CCRCs represent a residential alternative available to more affluent older adults who are independent in their activities of daily living at least when first entering the premise (Ayalon, 2015). In Israel, CCRCs are privately funded. Compared with other residential settings, the CCRC provides high levels of autonomy to older adults, at least upon first entering as independent residents. Research has shown, however, that once older adults become increasingly disabled, they tend to lose their autonomy and often are transferred to higher levels of care, which are disconnected from the independent living unit. Currently, only about 3% of all older adults in Israel live in institutional care (e.g., nursing homes, assisted living facilities, CCRCs). As of 2013, there were about 11,000 privately funded residential units in the country (Brodsky, Shnoor, & Be’er, 2017).