Get access

A Couplehood Typology for Spouses of Institutionalized Persons With Alzheimer's Disease: Perceptions of “We”–“I”


  • Lori Kaplan

    Corresponding author
    1. Lori Kaplan is Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences at Rush-Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • *The author would like to thank the agencies which funded this work: The Alzheimer's Association/National Catholic Society of Foresters Pilot Research Grant (PRG-93–148), which funded the larger project from which this emerged, and the Center on Aging Oversight Committee, University of Chicago, for covering transcription costs of qualitative interviews. Thanks to Professor Pauline Boss for the support that went above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks also to Carlos Mendes de Leon, Ph.D., for encouragement and regular feedback on earlier drafts and to David Bennett, MD, and Dan Kuhn, LCSW, for their comments and suggestions. I am also indebted to the student interviewers who collected the data and especially to the caregivers who opened their homes and shared their stories with us.

**Address correspondence to: Lori Kaplan, Assistant Professor, Neurological Sciences, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 675, Chicago, IL 60612.


A qualitative analysis of 68 community-dwelling spouses of institutionalized patients with Alzheimer's disease was conducted. The goal was to ascertain to what degree they perceived themselves as married. Five groups representing different degrees of couplehood emerged. Ranging from strong couplehood to no couplehood, groups were given the following terms: “’Til Death Do Us Parts,”“We, but …,”“Husbandless Wives/Wifeless Husbands,”“Becoming an I,” and “Unmarried Marrieds.” Ways to interpret this typology and implications for both further research and practitioners are described.