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The Gerontologist, Vol 37, Issue 2 233-238, Copyright © 1997 by The Gerontological Society of America


Family caregiving: the positive impact on adolescent relationships

DL Beach
Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, CA 92182, USA.

Adult children are a significant contingent of elder care providers; a number of these individuals simultaneously care for children of their own while coping with caregiving commitments. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of information regarding the caregiving impact on these children and young adults. Moreover, the possible positive consequences of caring for an impaired elder are rarely mentioned. The current study was undertaken to examine the potential positive caregiving experiences of adolescents and their perceptions of relational enhancement as a result of caregiving. Twenty adolescents aged 14-18 were interviewed and asked a series of semistructured questions concerning satisfaction related to caregiving. To be included, respondents had to be a child, grandchild, or niece/nephew of an Alzheimer's (or Alzheimer's Type Dementia) patient cared for by the adolescent's immediate family. Employing features of content analysis methodology, all interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. The results merged into four primary categories: 1) increased sibling activity/sharing; 2) greater empathy for older adults; 3) significant mother-adolescent bonding and 4) peer relationship selection and maintenance. The implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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Copyright © 1997 by The Gerontological Society of America.