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Findings on the effect of network size and support on functional health are mixed. We examine whether network types, that simultaneously incorporate multiple network characteristics, are associated with functional health in late life.

Data are from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (N = 3005). We estimated the longitudinal effect of membership in five multidimensional network types on disability in six activities of daily living using negative binomial regression, and on mobility (assessed using a timed walk test) using a generalized linear mixed model.

Compared to those in the large without strain network, older adults in the small, restricted, high contact network had fewer disabilities but worse mobility, while those in the large network with strain also had worse mobility.

Care plans focusing on function and mobility should consider multiple aspects of older adults’ social networks including network size, diversity, and relationship strain.

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