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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 654382, 11 pages
Research Article

Family Support and Loneliness among Older Persons in Multiethnic Malaysia

Population Studies Unit, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Received 2 July 2014; Revised 11 August 2014; Accepted 2 September 2014; Published 14 October 2014

Academic Editor: Nadia Minicuci

Copyright © 2014 Jane Kimm Lii Teh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigates factors affecting older persons’ state of loneliness in multiethnic Malaysia using data from the 2004 Malaysian Population and Family Survey, the first nationally representative sample in Malaysia. The study sample was extracted to include Malays, Chinese, Indians and other Indigenous groups aged 60 and above, and who had children (n = 1791). Cross tabulations and ordinal logistic regression methods were used in the analysis. Among the ethnic groups, older Malays were more likely than their Chinese and Indian counterparts to experience loneliness. Loneliness was found to be associated with age, marital status, education level, sources of income, health status, and physical limitations. Among older people, feelings of loneliness were inversely related with coresidence with adult children and participation in religious activities. Sociodemographic changes have eroded the traditional family support system for the elderly, while social security remains inadequate. This study shows the important role of family in alleviating loneliness among older people. Hence the need to promote and facilitate coresidence, as well as participation in religious activities, and a healthy lifestyle as a priority strategy is in line with the objectives of the National Policy for the Older People.