Eric D. Widmer

In later life, changing conditions related to health, partnership, and economic status may trigger not only support but also conflict and ambivalence, with the consequent renegotiation of family ties. The aim of this study is to investigate both conflict and emotional support in the family networks of older adults, taking the research beyond the level of intergenerational dyads. We used a subsample of 563 elders (aged 65 years and older) from the Swiss Vivre/Leben/Vivere survey. Multiple correspondence analysis and in-depth case studies were used to identify the key social conditions that relate to the prevalence of conflicted and supportive dyads in family networks. Findings showed that the balance of conflict and emotional support in older adults’ family networks varied according to the composition of their family network as well as their age, health, income, and gender.

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