Co-living with migrant domestic workers is associated with a lower level of loneliness among community-dwelling older adults: A cross-sectional study

Ken Hok Man Ho, Daphne Sze Ki Cheung, Paul Hong Lee, Simon Ching Lam, Rick Yiu Cho Kwan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Loneliness (inclusive social loneliness and emotional loneliness) of older adults is a prominent public health issue internationally. Factors consistently associated with loneliness are age, gender, education, living arrangements, social network, and functional status. Intergenerational co-living with spouse and adult children is important for the exchange of social, emotional, practical, and financial support provided to older adults. Co-living with migrant domestic workers (MDWs) to care for older adults became an emergent phenomenon internationally, particularly in Asian countries. According to the convoy model of social relations, the effect of co-living with MDWs on older adults' loneliness is unknown. This study examined (1) the prevalence of loneliness among community-dwelling older adults; and (2) the association between co-living with MDWs and older adult loneliness. Using the Chinese version of the 6-item De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale on loneliness, 380 older adults were interviewed at busy points in Hong Kong, including subway stations. 35.3% of older adults experienced moderate-to-severe loneliness. Linear regression was performed to examine the association between co-living with MDWs and loneliness. The results showed that co-living with MDWs was significantly associated with lower levels of overall loneliness (β = −0.636; p =.022) and emotional loneliness (β = −0.298, p =.039), but not for social loneliness (β = −0.337, p =.084). While MDWs could be an attachment figure for older adults, they might not be effective in promoting the social integration of older adults. There is a need to investigate the barriers of social integration faced by older adults co-living with MDWs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • co-living
  • intergenerational
  • living arrangements
  • loneliness
  • migrant domestic workers
  • older adults
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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