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Intimacy and Loneliness in the Elderly: A Proposal

This study examines intimacy in the elderly and specifically the relationship between intimacy and loneliness in the elderly. The study of intimacy in elders must first consider the definition of intimacy. Mackey, Diemer, and O'Brien, (2000) referred to psychological intimacy and defined this as a relationship that is open and honest and allows each to relate personal thoughts and feelings. However, the definition of intimacy varies and includes a combination of social, emotional, and physical factors (Wagner-Raphael, Seal, & Ehrhardt, 2001). For example, men and women view intimacy from a different perspective (Bedford & Avoili, 2001; Kingsberg, 2003; Wagner-Raphael et al., 2001). Some men define intimacy in terms of sexual relationships and some women define intimacy in terms of emotional exchanges (Wagner-Raphael, Seal, & Ehrhardt, 2001). In other cases, men report the expression of emotions and feelings of support as measures of intimacy (Wagner-Raphael, Seal, & Ehrhardt, 2001). Thus, variation exists regarding the definition of intimacy and the study of intimacy in the elderly is further complicated by additional f`ctors that must be considered such as affects of age on sexual functioning, increased needs for emotional support from different significant others, and links to loneliness (Bedford & Avoili, 2001; Kingsberg, 2002).

A comprehensive understanding of the meaning of intimacy among elders is lacking. Variation exists regarding theoretical definitions of intimacy, and it is argued that actual behaviors are more important than theory to determine what contributes to the inner sense of being psychologically intimate in a relationship (Mackey, Diemer, & O'Brien, 2000). Whether sexual intimacy is required for a sense of intimacy in relationships remains unclear. Research has reported that elderly in nursing homes are suffering due to restrictions in cohabitation and physical or sexual expression, which may decre...

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Intimacy and Loneliness in the Elderly: A Proposal. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:58, July 01, 2022, from