Monday, May 29, 2017

Older Adult Couples Living Apart Together (LAT): (Caregiving Research, Video 7:48)

Can absence really make the heart grow fonder? You’re middle-aged or over, divorced, widowed, never married, and basically content with living in your own space. Someone comes along that you love romantically, and you are confronted with the decision of living with this person in one household or not. What would you do? An increasing number of older adults are choosing to have a living apart together (LAT) relationship.

Many couples want a monogamous relationship without living together for various reasons. These may include financial and property considerations, lifestyle preferences, family issues, and just plain privacy, particularly for those who enjoy the freedom of living alone. Keep in mind that trust is a major factor that must be addressed in a long-term committed relationship under these circumstances.

What about caregiving if serious illness occurs? The reality is that many men want someone to take care of them if they become ill. They are usually more persistent than women about living together in a single household. Women, however, may not want to be caregivers, particularly in their own aging years. In research involving couples living apart together, interviews took place with 25 LAT partners and a comparison group of 17 remarried older adults.

What were the results? About half of the LAT partners said they would exchange caregiving if needed. The other half had ambiguous feelings or intentions to refuse caregiving. For those LAT partners already confronted with illness in their current relationship, all provided care for the partner in need. The minority of LAT partners who would not exchange care reciprocally were more likely to give as opposed to receive care.

This video features several facets of Canadian LAT partnerships of both young and older adult couples. It’s interesting to see how these two age groupings approach and sustain this growing trend of loving and living:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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