Women ageing solo in Ireland: an exploratory study of women's perspectives on relationship status and future care needs

Eileen Reilly, Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Nicky Lambert

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This study explores the impact of relationship status for women in Ireland who are ageing ‘solo’ and their perspectives on relationship status and their future care needs. Solo women were defined as those over 55 years who identify with long-term, non-partnered relationship status and have not had children. In-depth qualitative interviews with 10 women were used to gather data on how participants responded to their solo status. Voice-relational method was used to analyse the data and we report on three themes relating to social work. Firstly, participants experienced social stigma related to their status as solo women; secondly, their resistance and resilience in response and thirdly, the anticipated challenges and experiences of solo ageing in relation to meeting their care and support needs. Whilst conducted in Ireland, further research in this area is important to identify how social policy is inclusive for marginalised populations in ageing in similar contexts. Our findings suggest the need for increased professional awareness of women ageing solo when undertaking assessment and designing women’s person-centred support.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Social Work
Early online date28 Aug 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Aug 2018


  • solo
  • singleness
  • gender
  • ageing
  • relational methodology
  • social work
  • Ireland
  • women's care needs

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