Older Men’s Coffee Hour: A look at Social Interactions, Social Support and Well-Being


  • Katherine Broughton Western Illinois University
  • Laura Payne




Older adults, social support, well-being, leisure, health


Social support and social resources acquired in the context of leisure experiences is also essential to individuals’ health (Cho, Martin, & Poon, 2015). House (1981) asserted that social relationships, social networks, and social support have important causal effects on health, stress, and their relationships. Evidence also indicates interpersonal relationships (e.g., friendships, companions, people who one can rely on) are important to maintain health and longevity (Cherry et al., 2013; House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988). One area less explored is older men’s leisure patterns, social support and health. It is common to observe older men sharing breakfast, coffee and conversation in various public places in the United States. Participating in a coffee group can facilitate a sense of belonging and provide a way to engage socially and stay connected (Broughton, Payne, & Liechty, 2017). However, social relationships and their connections to health among men are less understood aspects of their aging experiences. Thus, we aimed to understand the ways in which participation in a coffee group facilitates social support and the types of social support evident within the men’s coffee group experience. One-on-one interviews were conducted and field notes created from observations made during the coffee group meetings. Interviews were audio recorded and data were analyzed thematically using open and axial coding (Merriam, 2009). The coffee group men exchanged significant and meaningful social support regularly. In themes that emerged from their stories, these men articulated how they exchanged different forms of social support including instrumental, informational, emotional, and appraisal support. Support received from family and friends is an important component of health and well-being (VonDras & Madey, 2004). In these groups, social support was apparent and seemed to contribute positively to the men’s experience and well-being. Importantly, these findings, suggest that social relationships and engagement help older adults flourish in later life (Steptoe & Fancourt, 2019). One way recreation managers could utilize this information is by facilitating more ways for older adults to socialize casually with each other, including casual drop-in spaces, pick-up card and board games, and other informal gatherings at local recreation centers. Subscribe to JPRA





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