Date of Award
Master of Science
William A. Poppen
William L. Conwill, Priscilla Blanton
Due to the population growth of persons aged 65 and older, there will be increasing numbers of frail, elderly requiring assistance with daily living. Often, it is families that provide care for the dependent elderly, and the typical caregiver is an adult daughter who is middle-aged. While there has been substantial research on adult children caring for parents, there have been few studies that have considered the third generation, or grandchildren, in caregiving families. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the meanings that grandchildren of physically or cognitively impaired elders give to the experience of family caregiving. A qualitative approach in the phenomenological tradition was chosen in order to capture the essence of grandchildren's caregiving experiences. Ten grandchildren between the ages of 15 and 30 participated in in-depth interviews. Family legacies, or the intergenerational transmission of ways of relating to members of the family system, seemed to have significant impact on grandchildren's perceptions of and involvement in caregiving for their grandparent. Caregiving behaviors and attitudes appeared to be passed down through the generations. This primary finding supported previous research. It was speculated that discrepancies in the findings from this study and past research were due to differences m the age of the grandchildren, the place m which the care recipient resides, and the nature of the care recipient's impairment Benefits and gratifications received from caregiving were reported primarily by older grandchildren, whereas younger grandchildren talked more about the demands and burdens associated with eldercare.
Matchen, Brooke Judkins, "Grandchildren and dependent grandparents: a qualitative study of family caregiving for the elderly. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2000.