This study investigates under what conditions older spouses receive personal care from their spouse. Whether spousal care is provided is determined by individual and societal factors related to informal and formal care provision. Individual factors concern the need for care (the care recipient's health status), the spouse's ability to provide care (the spouse's health status) and the quality of the marital bond. Societal factors reflect changing policies on long-term care (indicated by the year in which care started) and gender role socialisation (gender). From the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, which completed eight observations between 1996 and 2016, we selected 221 independently living married respondents, aged 59–93, who received personal care for the first time and had at least one previous measurement without care use. The results show that if an older adult received personal care, the likelihood of receiving that care from the spouse decreased over the years: from 80% in 1996 to 50% in 2016. A husband or wife was less likely to receive spousal care when the spouse was unable to provide care or the quality of the relationship was low. No gender differences were found in either the prevalence of spousal care use or in the factors associated with that use. Thus, individual factors and the societal context seem to determine whether one receives personal care from their spouse. The decline in the likelihood of personal care provision from a spouse over the years may indicate a crumbling of family solidarity, an unmeasured and growing inability of the older spouse to provide care or an increasing complexity of care needs that requires the use of formal care. As care-giving can be a chronic stressor and most spouses provide care without assistance from others, attention from policy makers is needed to sustain the well-being of older couples.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam is supported by a grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Directorate of Long‐Term Care. The data collection in 2012–2013 was financially supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) in the framework of the project ‘New Cohorts of young old in the 21st century' (file number 480‐10‐014).
The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam is supported by a grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Directorate of Long-Term Care. The data collection in 2012–2013 was financially supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) in the framework of the project ‘New Cohorts of young old in the 21st century' (file number 480-10-014).
© 2021 The Authors. Health and Social Care in the Community published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- informal care
- older couples
- personal care
- spousal care
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Huisman, M. (Creator), van Tilburg, T. (Creator), Broese Van Groenou, M. (Creator), Suanet, B. (Creator), Visser, M. (Creator), Kok, A. A. L. (Creator), Hoogendijk, E. O. (Creator), Deeg, D. (Creator), Schaap, L. (Creator), Beekman, A. F. T. (Creator) & van Schoor, N. M. (Creator), Amsterdam UMC, 1992