Published Papers - Abstract 84

Feldman S, Byles J, Mishra G & Powers J. The health and social needs of recently widowed older women in Australia. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 2002; 21(3): 135-140

Objective: To identify women's health and social needs immediately following the death of their husband. Method: A cross-sectional survey of 430 widowed women participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health was undertaken. Results: Surveys were returned by 340 women (79%) and 231 of these women had been widowed three years or less. While 82% of the 231 women still lived in their own homes, 19% had moved house since being widowed for financial or social reasons. There were needs for legal services (44%), and home maintenance (55%). Assistance from medical practitioners included understanding (64%), support (38%) and information (23%). Thirty percent said they had received medication to assist their bereavement, and 30% had taken medication to help them sleep or for their nerves within the four weeks prior to survey. Most women (85%) felt they had maintained or increased their level of social contact since becoming widowed. Conclusion: Widowed women have broad needs for practical help and advice. Appropriate services for widowed women need to encompass the social context in which widowed women are attempting to reconstruct their lives.