Sibling bereavement in late life
© 1997, Bay wood Publishing Co., Inc. Elders are more likely to confront the death of a sibling than any other kinship bereavement. Yet we know almost nothing about the impact of sibling deaths on older adults. We used attachment theory to generate hypotheses about the impact of this life event on physical health, mood, social support, and economic outcomes in late life. At the Duke University site of a large multi-center epidemiologic study (EPESE), 3173 elderly community-dwellers provided data on bereavements experienced in the past year as well as on demographic, health-related, and socioeconomic characteristics. Bereaved siblings were more functionally and cognitively impaired than bereaved friends and rated their overall health as worse than bereaved spouses or bereaved friends who were similarly impaired. Brothers and sisters bereaved of a brother reported excess financial hardship and mood impairment, respectively. Terminal care programs should screen for excess risk among surviving siblings and plan for assisting these survivors in adaptation to this loss.
Hays, JC; Gold, DT; Pieper, CF
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