Social Support and Cumulative Physiological Dysregulation among Chinese at Advanced Ages: Preliminary Findings from the CLHLS

Ting Li, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Xiaoming Shi, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC)
Zhaoxue Yin, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC)
Yi Zeng, Duke University and Peking University

The health effects of social support in old age and the underlying biological mechanisms are not well known in non-western populations. This study examined the associations between social relationship and an index of cumulative biological dysregulation (Allostatic load, AL) in a unique sample of people at advanced age (N=499, average age=93) from the 2008-09 wave of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey. Logistic regression analyses revealed that while few correlates commonly examined in U.S. based studies are significantly related to AL, social support is strongly related to AL. Structural social support in terms of number of connections was negatively related to AL for males but not for females, and appraisal support in terms of perceived quality of social relationship had a strong negative association with AL for both sexes. These findings highlight the importance of maintaining a high volumne of good social relationships for old people to achieve healthier aging.

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Presented in Poster Session 7