Losing and building supportive relationships in later life: A four-year study of migrants to a planned retirement community

Vincent Waldron, Richard Gitelson, Douglas Kelley, Jennifer Regalado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Many American elders retire to age-restricted planned retirement communities in the Sun Belt, often choosing to live at great distance from supportive family and friends. The social costs and opportunities associated with these migrations are of interest to researchers as well as prospective retirees. This longitudinal study examined changes in supportive relationships reported by 255 residents of an age-restricted planned retirement community located in the Southwest. Residents reported on their sources of social support prior to relocation and after approximately four years of residence. Those who had relocated from distant (out-of-state) communities were contrasted with those who moved from the local metropolitan area. After four years, long distance migrants reported a social support deficit compared to what they had experienced in their previous communities. In contrast, local movers reported a significant increase in supportive relationships over the four-year period. These results held for a global (average) measure of support and more specific indices of emotional support and assistance with an ill spouse. However, long distance migrants appeared to be making more new friends within the confines of the community. The data suggest that, for some older persons, relocation to a local planned community might be more advantageous than along distance move. Implications for environmental theories of aging and communication are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Housing for the Elderly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


  • Environmental theories of aging and communication
  • Planned retirement communities
  • Relocation
  • Social support
  • Supportive relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Public Administration
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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