Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum
Chapter Nineteen: The Socially and Sexually Active Later-Life Family Member
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FRAN C. DICKSON AND PATRICK HUGHES
The role and expectations of the later-life family member are changing in contemporary society. Older family members are living longer, healthier, and far more active lives than at any other time in history. As the Baby Boomers age, they are expected to be in better health and to live longer than any other cohort of older Americans (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). By 2030, 20% of our population will be between the ages of 60 and 85. In other words, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people will be over the age of 60 in 2030. We are also finding that as we age, the number of divorced people over the age of 60 is on the rise. The divorce rate for those over 50 has doubled since 1990 (“U.S. Population Predictions,” 2008). For example, in 1990, 1 in 10 older individuals was divorced; more recently it is 1 in 4 (“U.S. Population Predictions,” 2008). As a result, we are seeing the “graying of American divorce,” in which later-life divorce has become a more common occurrence. In the past, when we thought of a single older family member, their singlehood was typically a result of widowhood, not divorce. For example, one of the first articles that explored dating among older adults examined dating and remarriage only among individuals who were widowed (Cooney & Dunne, 2001).
Since we are seeing an increase in the number of divorces among later-life adults, we...
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