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Scientific article
English

Bereavement in Very Old Age: Impact on Health and Relationships of the Loss of a Spouse, a Child, a Sibling, or a Close Friend

Published inOmega, vol. 60, no. 4, p. 301-325
Publication date2010
Abstract

This article deals with the following two questions: In very old age, which are the main sources of bereavement? And what are the consequences of such losses on health and on relationships? The findings are based on the complete set of data compiled in the course of the Swiss Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study on the Oldest Old (SWILSOO), which provided a 10-year follow-up of a first cohort (1994-2004) and a 5-year follow-up of a second (1999-2004). The data revealed that, in very old age, the great majority of the dear ones who died were either siblings or close friends. Taken as a whole, the bereaved suffered a marked and lasting increase in depressive symptoms, together with a short-term deterioration in their functional status; those bereft of a spouse or a child saw their functional status worsen and exhibited enduring depressive symptoms but they also benefited from support in the form of increased interaction; those bereft of siblings only suffered from a mild, short-term deterioration in functional status; those who had lost a close friend suffered a very significant increase in depressive symptoms. In the medium term, most of these effects disappeared, lending weight to the claim that the survivors manage to cope with the misfortunes of life.

Keywords
  • mort
  • perte
  • proche
  • famille
  • grande vieillesse
Citation (ISO format)
LALIVE D’EPINAY, Christian, CAVALLI, Stefano, GUILLET, Luc-André. Bereavement in Very Old Age: Impact on Health and Relationships of the Loss of a Spouse, a Child, a Sibling, or a Close Friend. In: Omega, 2010, vol. 60, n° 4, p. 301–325. doi: 10.2190/OM.60.4.a
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ISSN of the journal0030-2228
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