Senior Series

Ohio State University Extension

Senior Series

For more information, visit the Ohio Department of Aging web site at:
and Ohio State University Extension’s “Aging in Ohio” web site at:

Siblings Are Forever



Even though there is not much attention given to sibling relationships in old age, researchers have shown that having brothers and sisters can significantly benefit us in later life. Possibly because siblings share memories and a sense of family identity, people with siblings report higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression in old age. In times of illness or crisis, siblings are shown to provide emotional and psychological support to each other. This exchange of support is common between siblings who live far away as well as those who live next door to each other.

Why are sibling relationships so important?

How do sibling relationships change over the life span?

Not surprisingly, many of us begin our lives having close contact and a growing emotional bond with our siblings. Except for moments of sibling rivalry, we often turned to our siblings for entertainment, support, and advice. As we get older, however, the sibling relationship often changes:

What can we do to enhance sibling relations?

Because sibling relationships can be so beneficial in later life, it is important to nourish interactions with siblings in adulthood and among our children.

Between children:

In adulthood:


Cicirelli, V. G. (1995). Strengthening sibling relationships in the later years. In Gregory C. Smith (Ed.), Strengthening Aging Families: Diversity in Practice and Policy. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Cicirelli, V.G. (1994). The Longest Bond: The Sibling Life Cycle. In Luciano L’Abate (Ed.), Handbook of Developmental Family Psychology and Psychopathology. New York: Wiley.


Author: Christine A. Price, Extension State Specialist, Gerontology, Department of Human Development and Family Science.


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