Changing everyday activities of couples in late life: Converging and keeping up

F.A. van Nes, H. Jonsson, T.A. Abma, D.J.H. Deeg

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The influence of mutual spousal interrelations in domains such as health and wellbeing has been demonstrated, but little is known about the domain of everyday activities of couples in late life. In the present explorative study, we considered all of the activities participating couples talked about to be their everyday activities. Its aim was to understand, over time, changes in everyday activities as experienced by late-life community-dwelling couples. In a two-year period, 41 individual and joint interviews were conducted with 8 couples, who were purposefully selected from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Analyses involved the construction of couple narratives and constant comparisons within and across couples. Changing everyday activities in late-life couples was interpreted to be a two-way process of (1) converging, and (2) keeping up, which occurred in three fluid phases. Converging was a slow inward movement with a shift towards diminished everyday activities performed in a smaller world. Keeping up was an outward movement in order to resist the converging process by using everyday activities as a means to keep fit, physically and mentally, and to connect with the wider social world. In the first phase, couples maintained their unique linked activity pattern. In the second phase, spouses resisted converging by keeping up. In the third phase, spouses co-performed everyday activities closely together. The findings support the need to develop couple-oriented interventions that aim to enhance the couples' functioning in the domain of everyday activities. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)82-91
    JournalJournal of Aging Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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