From Iceland — Couple Forcibly Separated After 65 Year Marriage

Couple Forcibly Separated After 65 Year Marriage

Published April 7, 2017

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photo by
Candida Performa/Wikimedia Commons

Stefán Þórarinsson and Aðalheiður Gunnarsdóttir have been denied joint placement at Hlíð retirement home in Akureyri, forcing the couple to live apart after 65 years together.

Vísir reports that Aðalheiður, 90 years old, has been deemed “too healthy” by the Directorate of Health’s assessment to be placed at Hlíð with her husband.

“When I got the news I felt I was dealt a heavy blow and I was hurt,” said Aðalheiður. “I think it’s pretty unfair that we have to be in different places after all this time together. As it stands now I spend all day with him at Hlíð but at night we have to part ways.”

Aðalheiður struggles to keep her house in order and is easily winded when doing basic household chores like emptying the dishwasher and putting stuff back in the cupboards.

Even so, when the couple applied for placement in the retirement home and they underwent the Directorate of Health’s assessment, she was declared self-sufficient while Stefán was not and was moved to the home.

“This issue has been raised with me and I will look into it and see if we can’t find a way to help them. No one is being best served with the situation as it is today,” said Halldór Guðmundsson, the managing director of the retirement home. “We put a lot of emphasis on our residents’ families and have made it a priority for older couples to spend their final years with one another.”

Halldór told Vísir that it was important for the government to not put seniors into the position where they are forced to separate in their final years solely because of health assessments. “Old age is not an illness, but a natural progression of human maturity,” said Halldór.

Aðalheiður and Stefán’s family have insisted that the retirement home is not to blame for the couple’s separation and have worked tirelessly to keep the two comfortable and together for as long as possible during the day.

A Note: The photograph accompanying this article is not of Aðalheiður and Stefán. We could not acquire one of them in person but hope the photo we have conveys the right sentiment. 

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