Coping strategies for happy childless aging. An explorative study in Poland

Anita Abramowska-Kmon, Warsaw School of Economics
Monika Mynarska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University
Sylwia Timoszuk, Warsaw School of Economics

Previous research on a quality of life of childless elderly people has not yielded unanimous results. The role of childlessness seems to differ for various life domains and its potentially negative impact can be buffered by numerous factors. For instance, a support received from a person’s social network, an income or an availability of health services are all important mediators in that respect. The present study expands our knowledge on such buffering factors. We apply explorative, qualitative methodology to investigate whether older childless people adopt any conscious coping strategies in a response to challenges that might be posed by a lack of children. We analyse a set of 42 qualitative interviews with childless men and women aged 65 or older. We reveal main concerns and worries related to childless aging and identify various coping strategies adopted in reaction to these concerns. The respondents were mostly worried that a lack of children is or can be resulting in a lack of support and care, especially in case of limitations in activities of daily living (ADL). We could identify two categories of coping strategies in face of these fears. First, our respondents aim at creating a satisfactory net of social contacts and sources of support. Second, they discussed strategies that might help them to remain independent from their social networks. In the paper, we portray these strategies and discuss their role for older childless people’s well-being.

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Presented in Session 41: Mental well-being of older adults