Extramarital relationships in the context of spousal alzheimer’s disease: A mixedmethods exploration of public attitudes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose – To conduct an exploratory mixed-methods study of attitudes toward extramarital relationships in the context of spousal Alzheimer’s disease. Design – We present descriptive analyses of quantitative data from the National Social, Health, and Aging Project and of qualitative comments posted online by readers of newspaper articles that focus on extramarital relationships in the context of caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease. Findings – Analyses of the quantitative data indicate the Alzheimer’s caregivers report more negative attitudes toward extramarital sex in the context of spousal Alzheimer’s disease. However, this difference is driven by non-spousal caregivers’ attitudes; spousal caregivers have substantially less negative attitudes. Analyses of public comments suggest that those who are most negative are focused on traditional religious and family values. Those who express less negative attitudes espouse a compassionate pragmatism that makes allowances for caregiver needs in the context of managing the difficulties of the spouse-caregiver role. Research limitations – Quantitative data are limited by the small number of Alzheimer’s caregivers; qualitative analyses are based on a convenience sample of online comments. Practical implications – Findings can inform future research, educational initiatives for professionals, the media, and people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family members. Social implications – The number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and spousal caregivers will increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Norms regarding extramarital relationships in the context of caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease are evolving. Originality – Little social scientific research examines attitudes toward extramarital relationships in the context of spousal Alzheimer’s disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-134
Number of pages32
JournalContemporary Perspectives in Family Research
Volume8A
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Attitudes
  • Caregivers
  • Extramarital sex
  • Marriage
  • Public discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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