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UBC Theses and Dissertations

All my mother wants is family : family members of parents with cognitive impairments share their experiences with caregiving and community supports MacKinlay, Maureen Jane

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to explore the experience of caregiving and the use of community supports from the perspectives of adult children providing care to their cognitively impaired elderly parents. Designed as an exploratory qualitative study within a framework of feminist postmodernism, the research process utilized a semi-structured interview format to capture the stories of caregivers' experiences. An advertisement as well as a purposeful criterion sampling method, applying a snowball approach, was used to recruit nine caregivers. Data collection occurred through individual and small family group interviews, and a subsequent focus group session. Thematic analysis of the data revealed that, despite caregiver burden and objective need for formal services, families underutilize services available to them due to the values and attitudes of the caregivers and care-recipients. Although service characteristics are important determinants of service use, other important factors which influenced formal service utilization are gender, availability of informal supports, family relationships, and perceptions of responsibility and of the services itself. Family caregivers want information and formal supports that are appropriate, adequate, and flexible so that when the caregiving context changes, they have knowledge of and access to options. They also want to be seen as partners in the process and to be valued for their contribution as caregivers. Formal service providers may be able to use these results in helping families improve their access to resources, designing programs that better serve their needs, and incorporating the family as a valuable supplemental resource when formal care becomes necessary for care recipients.

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