Views on Aging: How Caring for an Aging Parent Influences Adult Daughters’ Perspectives on Later Life
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Approximately 24 million Americans provide informal (unpaid) care to a family member or friend who is disabled or ill. The most common informal caregiving relationship is that of an adult child providing assistance to an elderly parent. Women in midlife represent most of the unpaid caregivers for older adults, yet little is known about how providing care affects women’s beliefs about and desires for their own aging. The purpose of this study was to understand how being a caregiver affected adult daughters’ perspectives on their own late life. In-depth interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of 15 women between the ages of 50 and 65 who were providing care to an ill and disabled parent or parent-in-law. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that caregivers were affected by the caregiving experience in five ways: gaining awareness, provoking fears, providing a comparison for current functioning, providing firsthand knowledge about aging, and providing an example of how to age. This study offers an alternative perspective on the well-documented negative consequences of caring for an older person, suggesting that caregiving encourages personal growth for adult daughters in midlife.
KeywordsCaregiving Older adults Late midlife Perspectives Aging
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