Date of Conferral







Leann Stadtlander


Aging may bring mental and/or physical decline. There may come a point when a loved

one needs long-term care in a nursing home. The purpose of this phenomenological study

was to examine the community dwelling spouses' emotional state. A study was

conducted with 10 individuals (5 men and 5 women) who had a spouse in long-term

nursing care. Inclusion criteria was to be at least 65-years old, have been married at least

30 years, and reside alone in his or her own home. The social emotional selectivity theory

and the construct of boundary ambiguity were applied to view the epoch. Data were

collected with audio recorded interviews and coded as to major idea in each response.

Five themes evolved from the responses: reduction of friends, ease or difficulty with

change, companionship, vows are forever, and why. The community-dwelling spouse

tended to be sad, anxious, and angry. Loss of companionship, increased isolation due to

reduction of friends prior to placement, concern about the well-being of his or her spouse,

and feelings of 'why did this happen to me?' were common themes by the community dwelling

spouse. Wives who did all household chores prior to their husband's

institutionalization were more able to accept the placement of their spouse than were

husbands who had depended on their wives. There is a need for treatment for the

community-dwelling spouse by nursing home staff, friends, and family. Nursing homes

can encourage support through community-dwelling support groups and mealtime with

their institutionalized spouses. Children of community-dwelling spouse can provide

support through contacting their parents frequently, clergy, and friends of the church

through visiting the community-dwelling spouse after placement of their spouse.