Declines in satisfaction with physical intimacy predict caregiver perceptions of overall relationship loss: A study of elderly caregiving spousal dyads

Doris Svetlik, W. Keith Dooley, Myron F. Weiner, Gail M. Williamson, Andrew S Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


The extent to which sense of overall relationship loss (feeling less happy or emotionally close) is predicted by declines in satisfaction with opportunities for affectionate physical contact and sexual intimacy was investigated in 136 caregivers of physically and/or cognitively impaired elderly spouses. Changes in satisfaction and relationship loss were unrelated to demographic factors. Older caregivers and those with more cognitively impaired spouses evaluated their own physical health less favorably, but caregiver health was unrelated to declines in satisfaction with physical intimacy or relationship loss. The only significant predictor of declines in satisfaction was providing more care; the only significant predictor of more perceived relationship loss was greater decline in satisfaction with opportunities for affectionate physical contact and sexual intimacy. Thus, decrements in health have minimal influence on caregiver perceptions of loss in relationship quality - as long as they do not result in losses in satisfaction with physical intimacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-79
Number of pages15
JournalSexuality and Disability
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005



  • Caregiver
  • Disability
  • Health
  • Relationship
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)

Cite this