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Effects on life satisfaction of older adults after child and spouse bereavement

Journal title
Aging & mental health
Publication year
Bratt, A. S.; Stenstrom, U.; Rennemark, M.

BACKGROUND: Few studies have compared the impact of different familial losses on life satisfaction (LS). Furthermore, there is a lack of research on the effect of having lost both a child and a spouse among older adults. SAMPLE: A random sample of 1402 individuals, 817 women and 585 men, aged 60-96 years from the Blekinge part of the Swedish National Study of Aging and Care (SNAC-B) participated in this cross-sectional study. AIMS: The first aim was to compare the effects of child or spouse or both child and spouse bereavement on LS and, the second aim, to investigate if there were gender differences within the bereaved groups. RESULTS: The results showed that having lost a child, spouse or both child and spouse had a negative association with LS, although this effect was small. Having experienced multiple losses did not predict more variance than a single child or spouse loss. Gender differences were found within all the bereaved groups with bereaved men having lower LS than bereaved women. Longer time since the loss was associated with higher LS. CONCLUSIONS: Bereaved older adults have somewhat lower LS than non-bereaved and bereaved men seem more affected than bereaved women. Future research needs to address older men s experiences after the loss of a loved one.

Research abstracts