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«For Better and for Worse» - Transition to Care and Conjugal Identities

Jean-Pierre Lavoie, Nicolas Rousseau

Spouses are far and away the caregivers primarily responsible for looking after elderly persons suffering from disabilities. And yet both professionals and most researchers seem to overlook their commitment or to take it for granted. In this article the author will be looking at spousal transition and commitment to the role of caregiver from the angle of issues of identity, and more particularly the identity assigned by society at large, based on the social and gender classification of the spouse, and the identity that elderly spouses appear to attach to themselves. Conjugal identity, as perceived by three generations of respondents and spouses, is based on a duty of solidarity involving both a consensual contract and trust.