Degree Type


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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Much of what is known about informal social support and functional/interactional needs of the elderly comes from studies done on white middle-class populations. The purpose of this research study was to identify the primary groups that noninstitutionalized, black elderly living in federally subsidized age-homogenous residential apartments located in Detroit, Michigan perceived as being instrumental components in their informal social support system. Elderly persons go from being a totally independent person to being partially independent and mutually interdependent based upon the support given to them by family, friends and neighbors. Therefore, a functional informal social support system must be available if the independent elderly persons are to maintain a feasible level of independence and a satisfactory social adjustment;Theoretical orientations of Eugene Litwak and Marjorie Cantor were utilized for the analytical framework of the study. The study design is that of an exploratory survey focusing on: functional support provided by family, friends and neighbors identified by the elderly, filial expectations and social interaction activities. Personal interviews were conducted on one hundred and forty randomly selected black elderly aged sixty-two and older living in age-homogenous apartments in Detroit, Michigan. Eight hypotheses were studied using appropriate statistical tests such as chi-square and Pearson correlations. It was found that relatives provided the majority of support for the respondents in matters that required long-term support (help in financial matters, help during long-term and short-term illness and help during socioemotional upsets, etc.) and in short-term commitments (borrowing monetary and nonmonetary items, help in storing and fixing small household items). They had definite high expectations concerning the provisions of filial support on financial matters and assistance with activities of daily living, when needed. Leisure-time activities were spent with friends and neighbors. Frequent interaction with family and friends was noted. The results of this study showed that noninstitutionalized black urban elderly are not isolated and abandoned by family, friends and neighbors. They are an integral unit within an active, nurturing and interacting informal social support system that provides a heterogenous array of support, when needed.



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Beverly Yvonne Claxton Peoples



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219 pages