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J Cross Cult Gerontol. 2008 Sep;23(3):265-82. doi: 10.1007/s10823-008-9058-6. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Concepts of burden in giving care to older relatives: a study of female caregivers in a Mexico City neighborhood.

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1772, USA.


This study examined how women in a Mexico City suburb conceptualized the construct of burden within the context of giving care to older relatives. Data were collected on 41 women through semi-structured interviews regarding their caregiving experiences to elderly relatives. Phenomenological principles were used to analyze meanings and understandings of caregiving experiences. Burden was a multi-dimensional construct that referred to specific situations that made caregivers feel emotionally or physical "heavy." Burden also referred to "being a burden" by being in the way, making things difficult, or being a 'weight' on caregivers' shoulders. However, women in this study also viewed burden as a positive sacrifice that involved love, initiative, and good will. This study is an important first step in defining the ways in which caregiving is positively and negatively meaningful for Mexican caregivers and their families. Our findings offer an additional dimension of caregiver burden to broaden our understanding and measurement of the construct. The development of culturally appropriate instruments to measure caregiving burden in Mexico is necessary to provide an empirical foundation for policy recommendations that address the growing need for institutional support of caregivers. Moreover, our findings suggest that researchers studying caregiving in Mexico should think about how burden is measured on existing instruments before adapting them for widespread use.

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