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Eldercare in context : narrative, gender and ethnicity Dorazio-Migliore, Margaret Louise

Abstract

This study is an investigation of informal elder caregiving among Canadians of Italian, Japanese, and Anglo ancestry who have links to the Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. In this study, I explore the meanings attached to eldercare in the specific contexts of narrative, gender and ethnicity. In order to conduct the study, I analyzed transcripts generated in qualitative, in-depth interviews with 3 0 caregivers (24 women and 6 men). In addition, I employed interactive and observational techniques in care facilities, at support group meetings, during a course for caregivers, and in various community settings. I also wrote extensive fieldnotes and garnered information from academic sources, media reports, and popular culture. The collected information is used to show how personal meanings are expressed through mixed-genre, co-constructed, dialogical (in the Bakhtinian sense) eldercare narratives that generally focus on a senior care-recipient who is a parent or spouse, his/her need for care, and the caregiving experience itself. I argue that both differences and similarities occur in the meanings given to caregiving. Eldercare narratives are different yet similar. Each caregiver, care-recipient, and caregiving situation is unique, and each eldercare narrative reflects these unique differences. Yet there are also parallels and differences attributable to other factors. These other factors include caregivers' situated involvements with a problem-fraught health care system, the social constructions of caregiving, ageing, gender, ethnicity, and class, and the character of narrative itself. My findings have policy and practice implications. They are particularly valuable for alerting us to how we should listen to and interpret what caregivers are telling us about their emotionally-charged, and often physically-draining, unpaid work.

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