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Qual Health Res. 2004 Jul;14(6):792-815.

Continuity of the self in later life: perceptions of informal caregivers.

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Uppsala University, Sweden.


The authors explore perceptions of informal caregivers of extremely elderly (80+) relatives or friends regarding the purpose of caregiving, including factors they considered important for the life satisfaction of the care recipients. They collected data mainly through qualitative interviewed and employed symbolic interactionism. The results revealed a general purpose of the informal caregiving: protection of the care recipient's self. This purpose was a significant aspect of the identified caregiving categories--social-emotional, proxy, and instrumental care--and the authors consider all four factors important for the care recipients' life satisfaction: activity, independence, and environmental and adaptive factors. Some informal caregivers gave forceful encouragement to care recipients in an attempt to get them to accept formal care and move to sheltered accommodation. This study underscores the value of informal caregiving and that the caregiving interaction should be balanced by reciprocity.

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