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Intra-couple Caregiving of Older Adults Living Apart Together: Commitment and Independence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2015

Jenny De Jong Gierveld*
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW), Groningen University
La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Jenny de Jong Gierveld, Ph.D. Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW)/ Groningen University P.O. Box 11650 2502 AR The Hague The Netherlands (


Recently, rising numbers of mid-life and older adults are starting a “living apart together” (LAT) relationship following divorce or widowhood. LAT describes an intimate relationship wherein partners maintain separate households. This study investigated the characteristics of care arrangements in older long-term LAT couples and elicited personal comments about intra-couple care. We interviewed 25 LAT partners and a comparison group of 17 remarried older adults in the Netherlands in a side study of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study. Results showed that about half of the LAT partners intended to exchange care if needed (partnership commitment); the other half had ambiguous feelings or intentions to refuse care (independence orientation). However, for those LAT partners already confronted with illness in their current relationship, all provided care to the partner in need. The minority of LAT partners who would not exchange care reciprocally are more likely to give as opposed to receive care.


Récemment, un nombre accroîssant d’adultes d’âge mûr ou plus agés se lancent dans des relations de “vivre ensemble séparément” après le divorce ou pendant le veuvage. Un "VES" est une relation intime dans laquelle les partenaires maintiennent domiciles séparées. Cette étude a examiné les types de soins pour les couples VES plus âgés et à long terme, et a dévoilé des commentaires personnels au sujet des soins pour ces couples. Nous avons interrogé 25 VES partenaires et aussi avons interrogé un groupe de comparaison de 17 personnes âgées qui se sont remariées dans les Pays-Bas, à travers une étude ancillaire à la Panel Study Pays-Bas parenté (PSP-BP). Les résultats ont révelé qu’environ la moitié de ces partenaires VES a l’intention d’ échanger des soins si nécessaire (engagement du partenariat); l’autre moitié a éprouvé des sentiments ambigus, ou avait l’intention de refuser des soins (l’orientation indépendante). Toutefois, pour les partenaires VES déjà confrontés aux maladies dans leur relation actuelle, tous ont soigné partenaires dans leur besoin. La minorité de partenaires VES qui ne voulait pas échanger réciproquement les soins sont plus susceptibles de donner, plutôt que de recevoir, des soins.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2015 

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