Spousal Bereveament

Introduction

Some older adults exhibit intense and prolonged distress following the loss of their spouse, whereas others manifest remarkable resilience. This paper will first give an overview of how older men and women are affected by the loss of a spouse. Subsequently it will focus on risk factors that can help to clarify why some older persons are far more devastated by the loss of a spouse than others. Then attention will turn to one factor believed to be especially important for how older adults adjust to spousal loss: gender.

Effects of Loss of a Spouse

More than 900,000 people are widowed each year in the United States, and nearly three quarters of them are over the age of ...

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Moss, et al., 2001). This lack of research may stem from assumptions and beliefs regarding how older persons react to conjugal loss. Because widowhood is a "normal" and expected part of life among older adults, spousal loss is presumed to pose less of a coping challenge to older adults, compared to the loss of a spouse in early adulthood or at midlife (wortman & silver,1990). As Neugarten (1968?, p.86) has maintained, death of a spouse among the elderly is "rehearsed, the 'grief work' completed, the reconciliation accomplished without shattering the sense of continuity of the life cycle." Since older adults expect to be confronted with the death of their spouse, they may anticipate and plan for the challenges that lie ahead.

More over, most elderly persons lose their spouse following a chronic illness and thus have the opportunity to resolve any "unfinished business" and convey what they have meant to one another. Older bereaved spouses also have more opportunities to interact ...

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can shed light on the special vulnerability of older people who have experienced a significant loss. Social support, which has been found to be a reliable predictor of recovery from loss, is often missing in the lives of older people, especially when they lose their lifelong companion.

Helsing and Szklo (1981) found that unmarried men up to age 75 have about a 50% greater mortality rate than married men of the same age. Moreover, people who already have physical or emotional health problems before a loss often find that their preexisting problems worsen following the loss. Individuals who were already depressed are at considerable risk for becoming more deeply depressed following ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 3/7/2012 02:50:42 PM
Submitted By: eilis
Category: Psychology
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2747
Pages: 10

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