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The experience of caregiving : a qualitative study of older women whose husband have Parkinson's disease Schalkwyk, Mathilde Geertruide


This phenomenological study was designed to explore and describe the experience of older women who are caring for husbands with Parkinson's disease. The study was conducted with a sample of seven caregivers ranging in age from 50 -74 years who had lived with husbands with Parkinson's disease for 9-38 years. Data were collected by intensive interviewing usually at the home of the caregiver. The data were analyzed for common themes. The findings revealed that each wife experienced three phases during the course of caregiving. The three phases were: coping with illness, taking over, and separating life paths. These phases occurred in relation to the changes due to the illness, that each wife perceived in her husband, her marriage and herself. Each phase developed as the disease progressed and was meaningful to each wife because of her personal perceptions. Understanding the nature of caregiving in this way may help health care workers to provide more appropriate support for caregivers. Implications for practice are discussed.

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