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Marital Counseling for Older Couples Chapter 1 3 INTRODUCTION

Marital Counseling For Older Couples: Research/Theory Conducted Prior to 1985 12

Research Conducted on Older Couples' Levels of Marital Satisfaction 13

Therapeutic Issues: Sexuality and Intimacy among the Aged 14

Therapeutic Issues: Countertransference 18

Social and Psychological Factors Affecting the Aging Marital System 20

Psychotherapeutic Interventions with the Elderly 23

What attitudes do therapists have of marital counseling for the elderly and are these attitudes affected by the therapist demographics of gender, age, educational background, type of degree attained, number of years of therapeutic practice, type of practice, and percentage of practice devoted to marital intervention with older couples? The proposed study offers a description of research designed to answer these questions.

By the year 2000, Americans aged 65 and over are expected to constitute 13 percent of the total population of the United States; this compared with 7 percent in 1950 and 12 and 1/2 percent in 1988 (American Association of Retired Persons, 1989; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1989). By the year 2030, the proportion of older Americans is expected to have risen to 20 percent (Neidhardt & Allen, 1993).

Moreover, Longino (1988) reports that the population of the "oldest old" (people 85 years and above) has increased 165 percent in the last 22 years. Specifically, Longino notes that in 1980, people over 85 numbered 2.3 million; in 2000, they are expected to number 5.4 million, and in 2040, 13 million.

This "graying" of the American population is believed to have two causes. The first cause is the high birthrates that occurred during the late 1800s and the mid-1900s plus the high immigration rates of the twentieth century. The second cause is the medical advances that have lengthened life expectancy. In other words, as a result of medical advances, fewer people die young, and new medicines and procedures now ...

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