Frailty and spousal/partner bereavement in older people: a scoping review

Garcia, Rebecca; Mahon, Aiofe; ; and (2021). Frailty and spousal/partner bereavement in older people: a scoping review. Journal of Health and Social Care Improvement, 4(1) pp. 14–23.



As life expectancy worldwide is increasing, the prevalence of frailty is also increasing. This scoping review aimed to identify and collate published information relating to frailty and spousal/partner bereavement in older people.

A scoping review framework was used to identify that discussed frailty and spousal/partner bereavement i.e. the death of a life partner whether married or unmarried co-habiting, in community dwelling individuals aged 60+ years old, were included.

Four studies were included. Overall, spousal/partner bereavement was negatively associated with the incidence and level of frailty. All four studies reported that elderly widowed females had a higher prevalence of frailty compared to married females and widowed and/or married males. Males were also less likely to be widowed or living alone compared to females. Female longevity and the potential of living alone once bereaved increases the risk of frailty for this population.

This review identifies the needs of ageing populations and the potential risk of frailty associated with spousal/partner bereavement.

This review should help to make nurses more aware of the possible impact of bereavement on the development of frailty in older people and identify those most at risk, and/or in need of specific support/interventions.

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