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The married, the formerly married and the never married: support system differentials of older women in planned retirement communities

International Journal of Aging & Human Development 15(4): 285-297

The married, the formerly married and the never married: support system differentials of older women in planned retirement communities

This paper explores the nature of informal support given to older women, depending upon their marital status and the presence of living children. To control for differential availability of formal resources and for background characteristics, random samples of 371 noninstitutionalized female residents of two midwestern life care communities were interviewed. We found, unsurprisingly, that women who were presently, or who had been married, received more emotional, social, and instrumental support from their family members. But in further analysis it became clear, much to our surprise, that the presence of a husband only assured the married women of significantly more instrumental (task-oriented) support. It was the existence of living children--even just one child--that generated greater emotional, social, and instrumental support from her family. The greatest informal support deficits are among the never married, as expected, but are a result of the lack of children rather than the absence of a husband.

Accession: 006713943

PMID: 7183569

DOI: 10.2190/U7VN-AE4Y-0KER-CTT7

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