Intimate And Social Relationships Important For Older Adults In Assisted Living

Intimate and social relationships remain important for older adults residing in assisted-living facilities, according to a recent study.

In a study examining the intimate and social relationships of married and unmarried couples in assisted living, researchers found benefits of late-life couplehood included companionship, support and affection. However, there were some detrimental outcomes, such as feeling the burden of caregiving, feeling defined by one’s spouse and having limited choices.

The study also showed the importance of social relationships. While many assume couples have each other and don’t need or want external relationships, the frailty of participants in this study and the range of marital quality showed coupled residents could not always rely on their intimate partners for support. Fellow residents may prove to be important confidantes, companions and friends to coupled residents in assisted living, and they can help shield against negative health outcomes associated with marital transitions, such as when a spouse is ill or dies.

The findings, published in the journal The Gerontologist, demonstrate the complexity and range of later-life couples’ intimate and social lives.

“These are important relationships and to the extent that they can be supported have really significant implications for well-being and quality of life for older adults,” said Dr. Candace Kemp, associate professor in the Gerontology Institute and Department of Sociology at Georgia State University. “In some cases, particularly with the married couples, these are marriages that are 60 and 70 years in the making, and to separate people and not facilitate them aging in place together can be problematic.”

 

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