Abstract: Social Isolation and Other Risk Factors’ Influence on Emotional Well-Being of Older African Immigrants (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Social Isolation and Other Risk Factors’ Influence on Emotional Well-Being of Older African Immigrants

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Valley of the Sun E, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Dolapo Adeniji, MSW, Student, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN
Background and Purpose: Social isolation has been documented as a significant challenge for older adults, including those who are immigrants. The conventional wisdom blames social isolation among older immigrant adults on language barriers, living arrangements, and age at migration, but at the expense of analytical clarity about how social isolation interacts with other important risk factors to influence emotional well-being among older African immigrants. This study makes an important contribution to the existing knowledge by examining how social isolation and other risk factors interact to impact emotional well-being among older African immigrants. It uses life course theory, acculturation theory, and cumulative risk theory to identify the relevant stressors or risk factors, such as living arrangements, financial satisfaction, acculturation predictors, transportation, and grandchild care.

Methods: Data and Samples: A quantitative approach was used for the study. A total of 163 older African immigrants aged 60 and over were recruited for the study using purposive and snowball sampling. The participants completed a single document survey online or by mail.

Measures: The major measures used include Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Social isolation Short Form 8a v2.0, A Short Acculturation Scale for African Immigrants (ASASI) and Emotional well-being scale. All the scales showed good internal consistency. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was performed to analyze factors associated with the emotional well-being of older African immigrants.

Results: The result shows that explanatory power increased with each additional variable in order of demographic characteristics, language use and preference, ethnic social relations, financial satisfaction, transportation, grandchild care and social isolation. Social isolation, ethnic social relations, and financial satisfaction have the most significant association with emotional well-being. Social isolation and ethnic social relations negatively affect the emotional well-being of the participants, while financial satisfaction positively influences their emotional well-being.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings indicate that older immigrants are vulnerable to poor emotional well-being due to social isolation and lack of or limited social interactions with natives in the community. Thus, to enhance the positive emotional well-being of older African immigrants, social workers, other health care practitioners and policy makers should focus on promoting social engagement and the inclusion of older immigrants in the community.

Furthermore, future research should consider studies on inclusion of multicultural components in aging programs.