Background: Social relationships may be the key to successful aging among older adults. However, little is known about the variability of social relationships among community-dwelling older people. This study aimed to describe the patterns of social relationships and examine the differences in sociodemographic characteristics and mental and physical health status among these patterns. Methods: We obtained the data from a questionnaire survey in 2017 for older adults aged 65 and above who lived in a suburban area in Japan. The Index of Social Interaction (ISI) was used to evaluate social relationships. The final sample comprised 964 people who were independently mobile and answered at least one item of the ISI. To clarify the patterns of social relationships, latent class analysis was performed with five subscales of ISI treated as indicator variables. Multinomial logistic regression was conducted to examine the factors associated with the patterns of social relationships. Results: The patterns of social relationships were classified into three classes: “Active” (73.6%), “Socially isolated” (14.7%), and “Less motivated” (11.7%). Persons who had depressive symptoms were more likely to be allocated to the “Socially isolated” (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.80, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.13–2.86) or the “Less motivated” groups (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.00–2.85) compared to the “Active” group. In addition, men (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.07–2.76) and those living alone (OR 3.07, 95% CI 1.43–6.61) were more likely to be allocated to the “Socially isolated” group. Moreover, those who were dependent, according to the instrumental activities and daily living functions, were more likely to be assigned to the “Socially isolated” (OR 2.19, 95% CI 1.21–3.97) or “Less motivated” (OR 6.29, 95% CI 3.47–11.39) groups. Conclusion: This study revealed the patterns of social relationships in older adults and suggested that there may be variations of social relationships among community dwellers. The results also indicated the necessity of assessing individual patterns of social relationships and devising strategies for each pattern in public health practice.
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