The partner in late-life repartnering: Caregiving expectations from an intergenerational perspective

Chaya Koren, Shiran Simhi, Sharon Lipman-Schiby, Saray Fogel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Late-life repartnering among functionally independent adults, resulting in complex stepfamilies, has emerged with increased life expectancy, and is likely to develop further. It is perceived as a chance for renewal and autonomy, enabling a release from dependency on offspring, whereas caregiving is associated with dependency and becoming a burden on family members. Thus, the experiences of late-life repartnering and caregiving are opposites. Using a life course perspective, we explore partner caregiving expectations in late-life repartnering from the viewpoints of three generations in complex stepfamilies in Israel, a society characterized by collectivist alongside individualist familial norms. Methods: Using criterion sampling, we recruited 19 stepfamily units (38 families) of functionally independent persons who repartnered at the official retirement age or older and had offspring from a lifelong marriage that ended in widowhood or divorce. One-hundred-seven semi-structured qualitative interviews with older partners, their adult children, and grandchildren were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis was based on grounded theory principles and dyadic analysis adapted to families. Results: Two themes emerged: caregiving commitment and decision making. Issues included: influences of partner-caregiving history; chronic versus temporary caregiving situations; caregiving strengthening partner relationships and influencing stepfamily relationships, and moral dilemmas, such as what happens when fun - a motive for repartnering - is no longer possible. Could abandonment become an option? Conclusions: From a life course perspective, caregiving, as on-time, and late-life repartnering, as off-time, highlight the lack of norms and the need to establish normative behavior for caregiving in late-life repartnering in diverse cultural contexts along with its reservations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1555-1565
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Volume28
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Psychogeriatric Association 2016.

Keywords

  • aging families
  • caregiving
  • cultural aspect
  • late-life repartnering
  • parent-child relationships
  • primary partner relationships
  • qualitative analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology

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