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Family Ties and Aging

Family Ties and Aging

Third Edition

October 2018 | 488 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Providing an integrated and thorough representation from current research and contemporary society, Family Ties and Aging shows how pressing issues of our time—an aging population, changing family structures, and new patterns of work-family balance—are negotiated in the family lives of middle-aged and older adults. 

Focusing on key questions such as "How do current trends and social arrangements affect family relationships?" and "What are the implications of what we know for future research, theory, practice, and policy?", authors Ingrid Arnet Connidis and Amanda E. Barnett explore groups and relationships that are typically overlooked, including the unique family situations of older single and childless persons, sibling ties, older lesbian and gay adults, and new forms of intimate relationships. The Third Edition is thoroughly updated to include the latest research and theoretical developments, recent media coverage of related issues, and new information on intimate relationships in later life and elder neglect/abuse.

Part I. Introduction and Overview
Chapter 1: Older Persons in a Family Context
The Relevance of Studying Family Relationships in Older Age

The Place of Older People in Families of the Past and Present

Theoretical Orientation

Underlying Assumptions

Dimensions of Family Ties and Plan of the Book

Thinking Ahead

Chapter 2: The Availability of Family Ties in Later Life
Demographic Trends and Family Structure

The Availability of a Marital or Intimate Partner

The Availability of Children

The Availability of Grandchildren

The Availability of Siblings

Living Arrangements in Later Life


Conclusion to Part I

Part II. Intimate Ties
Chapter 3: Intimate Ties in Later Life
Defining Intimate Ties

The Significance of Marital Status

Sexuality and Aging


Chapter 4: Long-Term Intimate Partnerships: Marriage and Same-Sex Unions
Marriage in Later Life

Gay and Lesbian Partnerships

The Impact of Life Transitions on Intimate Ties


Chapter 5: Transitions in Intimate Ties: Loss of a Long-Term Partner

The Death of a Same-Sex Partner


Dissolution of Same-Sex Relationships


Chapter 6: Being Single in Later Life
Portrayals of Being Single

Trends in Staying Single

The Transition to Being Single

The Lives of Older Single Persons

Gay and Lesbian Singles in Mid- and Later Life


Chapter 7: New Opportunities for Intimacy in Later Life


Living Apart Together

Dating and Steady Companions

Sexual Intimacy among the Unattached in Later Life


Conclusion to Part II

Part III. Intergenerational Relations
Chapter 8: Exploring Intergenerational Relations
Perspectives on Intergenerational Relations

Older Parents and Their Adult Children

Chapter 9: Support Exchanges Between Older Parents and Adult Children
Perspectives on Support Exchanges

Parental Support to Adult Children

Child Support to Older Parents


Chapter 10: Childless Older Persons
Transitions to Childlessness

The Impact of Being Childless on Social Activity and Support in Later Life

The Impact of Being Childless on Quality of Life in Older Age


Chapter 11: Grandparents and Grandchildren
Availability of and Contact with Grandparents and Grandchildren

The Nature of Grandparent–Grandchild Relations

Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren

The Death of Grandparents


Chapter 12: Partner Transitions, Stepties, and Intergenerational Relations
The Impact of Divorce on Ties between Older Parents and their Children

The Impact of Divorce on Grandparent–Grandchild Ties

Remarriage, Stepties, and Intergenerational Relations


Conclusion to Part III

Part IV. Sibling Relationships
Chapter 13: Sibling Ties in Middle and Later Life
Unique Features of Sibling Ties

Diversity Among Siblings

Availability of and Contact with Siblings

The Nature of Sibling Ties in Later Life

Chapter 14: Life Transitions and Sibling Ties
The Impact of Changes in Marital and Parental Status

Aunts and Uncles, Nieces and Nephews

Sharing Caring for Parents

Support Exchanges Among Older Siblings

Summary and Conclusion to Part IV

Part V. Research and Policy
Chapter 15: Research and Policy: Issues and Directions
Research Issues

Social Policy

Summary and Conclusion to Part V

About the Authors

This text provides the foundation for is valuable for both undergraduate and graduate students. It
offers enough substance for graduate students to use it as a springboard for more in-depth considerations of the topics. It provides
undergraduates with the foundation of information that they can apply to their own lives.

Denise C. Lewis
University of Georgia, Human Development and Family Science

I’ve adopted this book because of its good breadth (combined with good depth, not watered down) of a good variety of topics and
issues. I like the life course and other theoretical perspectives, including the notion of “negotiation” of family
relations, and the attention to how family patterns and relations vary by both age and gender, as well as gay/lesbian relations and other
diversity in family forms.

Russell Ward
University of Albany, SUNY
Survey Monkey

I have not yet seen a book that is better-structured for my course. The main sections seem to appropriately capture the range of key family relationships during each period. 
I believe the book attends to family system-level issues better than others I reviewed. I also build a focus on psychohistorical
perspective into the course and believe this is appropriately addressed in the book.

Randy Leite, Dean, College of Health Sciences and Professions
Ohio University
Survey Monkey

This text is one of the only up-to-date comprehensive texts on this topic that I have found. Comprehensive is probably the key word. All of the major
topics are addressed.

Mary Hart, Professor/Gerontology Program Director
California University of Pennsylvania
Survey Monkey
Key features


  • Key themes and theoretical orientation have been expanded to reflect developments in the field including the concept of ambivalence and increased attention to how what happens inside families relates to what happens outside them.
  • Each chapter begins with questions to consider to guide readers’ their learning as they pay attention to the critical issues.
  • New discussion of current issues on research and policy.
  • Chapters have been reorganized for emphasis and to bring clarity to the flow of ideas.
    • The long-term intimate ties of middle-aged and older persons–spouse or partner, gay or straight–are explored in Chapters 3 and 4.

o    The chapter on transitions in intimate relationships is now two chapters: Chapter 5 on transitions in intimate ties and Chapter 7 on new opportunities for intimacy in later life.

    • Other intimate relationships and opportunities, including cohabitation, LAT (living apart together) and dating are discussed in Chapter 7.
  • The growing complexity of family ties over the life course and the changing realities of what it is to be single or childless are examined.
  • Discussion of the family lives of gay and lesbian middle-aged and older persons throughout in order to be deliberately inclusive regarding all aspects of family life rather than isolating the family ties of gay and lesbian persons in a separate chapter.
  • Updated discussion of a range of research and policy issues as they relate to understanding and supporting complex and diverse family ties in the later stages of life.


  • Weaves the vast range of information about the many facets of family relationships and aging into a critical, comprehensive, and integrated whole.
  • Explores a range of intimate relationships, what happens when they end, and pathways to intimacy in old age.
  • Emphasizes diversity in terms of gender, age, class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation throughout to help readers learn about similarities and differences in family relationships as we age.
  • Links the discussion of various family relationships in mid- and later life to current and future directions for research, practice, and policy.
  • Chapters and sections end with a summary and conclusion, and quotes from various sources are used throughout to bring concepts to life.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2

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