Continued Togetherness: Couples Preparing for Old Age

  • Olga Asrun StefansdottirEmail author
  • Eydis Kristin Sveinbjarnardottir
Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging, volume 22)


In this chapter, we take the position that the individualistic view or perspective of the Icelandic health care system creates challenges to the well-being, agency and human rights of elderly couples. We argue that taking a systems approach is a prerequisite for sound policy decisions, service delivery and research regarding older couples and families. It is important to highlight that older couples are a diverse group of people with different needs and expectations in relation to services. Our research question is: “What challenges are elderly couples in Iceland facing?” We explored the possible answer to our question by reviewing demographic change of the elderly in Iceland, articles and policy documents on elderly couples in the last 5 years. Following the review of the challenges on aging we decided to focus on one of the most current and controversial issue of cohabitation of couples in nursing homes. The results indicated that the service users requested continued togetherness when the partner needed institutional care. The issue of forced separation needs further discussion especially with health professionals themselves. It also needs a greater political will to implement and hence to make changes to accommodate the needs of an aging population in Iceland.


Cohabitation Continued togetherness Family Forced separation Challenges Health professionals Iceland New challenge Nursing homes Older couples 



Appreciation expressed to Merrie J. Kaas, Ph.D., APRN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, Professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota USA, for her kind assistance in processing the manuscript in the making.

Special thanks to Joan Harbison, Ph.D, RSW, Adjunct Professor at the School of Social Work at the Dalhousie University Canada, for her good comments on the chapter in the workshop in Umeå, Sweden.

Andrew Paul Hill, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of Police Science, University of Akureyri, Iceland and Audrey Matthews, Ph.D., Principal Lecturer (PL) in Chemistry and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), for their language check in British English of the chapter.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to authorship, and/or publication of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Asrun Stefansdottir
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eydis Kristin Sveinbjarnardottir
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Health SciencesUniversity of AkureyriAkureyriIceland

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