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New intimate relationships as a resource for independent living in later life
Stockholms universitet.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology.
2014 (English)In: The gerontologist, ISSN 0016-9013, E-ISSN 1758-5341, Vol. 54, no Suppl. 2, 11-11 p.Article in journal, Meeting abstract (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite increased research interest in transitions into new intimate relationships in later life, little focus has been on how transitions affect older people’s social networks. We investigate the impact of entering into new intimate relationships in later life on interdependent lives. Results are based on both qualitative interviews with 28 Swedes (63–91 years) either dating or living in new relationships initiated 60+ (marriage, cohabitation, LAT), and a quantitative survey to 60–90 year old Swedes (n=1225; response rate 42%). A central theoretical frame is Elder’s (1994) principle of interdependent lives. A new relationship usually meant integration into the new partner’s social and filial networks (some problems will be discussed) and a restructuring of the relationship chain so that time and energy is redirected to the new partner. A new partner was described as a resource for living independent lives by the older informants, and as a way of “unburdening” the children. Finally, the qualitative interviews hinted at a hierarchy of dependencies. This was confirmed by the survey. A majority of respondents would primarily turn to their partners for social, emotional and practical support, with children as a distant second and “others” third. An exception was personal hygiene, where partners remained the first choice, but where the social services were preferred to children. This hierarchy was the same in new relationships. The results, partly contradicting previous research findings, are discussed in light of Western individualism generally and Swedish welfare-state and state supported individualism in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 54, no Suppl. 2, 11-11 p.
Keyword [en]
geriatrics, intimate relationships, later life, social networks, relationships, 60-90 year old
National Category
Geriatrics Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-19075ISI: 000346337500056OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-19075DiVA: diva2:793318
GSA 2014, 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Gerontological Society of America, 5-9 November 2014, Washington, USA
Available from: 2015-03-06 Created: 2015-03-06 Last updated: 2016-06-28Bibliographically approved

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