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The personal communities of older widowed men

Collins, T 2014, The personal communities of older widowed men , in: The International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Region Congress 2015, 23rd-26th April, Dublin.

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Abstract

Background: This paper reports on the personal communities of a group of older widowed men. Although the incidence of widowhood is still greater for older women than it is for older men, this ratio has decreased over recent years, due in part to the increased life expectancy of men. However there remains a lack of qualitative research exploring gender differences in terms of the types and characteristics of social relationships and support during the transition. Methods: Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted, September 2013-February 2014, with seven older widowers, 71-89 years of age, in the area of North Staffordshire, United Kingdom (UK). Interviews included personal community diagrams to identify the structure of the older men’s social relationships. Data analysis included thematic analysis of interview transcripts and content analysis of personal community diagrams. Results: The study identified four types of personal community among the older widowers, comprising different combinations of family, friends and others. The four types include two family-types and two friend-types. Ties with organisations and subsequent friendships tended to be ‘task-focused’ rather than purely ‘social’. The majority of the older widowers had been long term carers, many of the men talked about friendships and social connections ending even before their wives had died. Conclusions: It is important to consider gender differences and preferences when designing services for older people. Policy makers and practitioners should also consider the social needs of long term carers as social isolation and loneliness can begin long before the death of a spouse.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > School of Health Sciences
Refereed: Yes
Funders: VCECRS
Depositing User: T Collins
Date Deposited: 05 May 2015 15:09
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2016 18:21
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/34470

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