Social support and service provision to older adults: An introduction and overview

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

1 Scopus citations


Theories of support to older adults have variously emphasized preferences and constraints in the support-seeking process. An influential theory emphasizing preferences for support and care was advanced by Cantor (1979) in her hierarchical-compensatory model of social supports, which posits an ordered selection of caregivers that starts with spouses, daughters, and sons, then extends to more distant family members, friends, and neighbors. This perspective countered competing perspectives seeking to understand the social principles underlying the organization of informal support. For instance, Litwak's (1985) task-specific model emphasized mixed functions among network members who provide specialized types of support based on their emotional connection, geographic proximity, and level of commitment to the care recipient. While not entirely antagonistic, these two theories reflect the tension between the importance of preferences and structured differentiation in the support choices made by older adults and their social network members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLater-Life Social Support and Service Provision in Diverse and Vulnerable Populations
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding Networks of Care
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781351839440
ISBN (Print)9780415788304
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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