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A qualitative study of older informal carers’ experiences and perceptions of their caring role

Background and aims: Unpaid family carers, or caregivers as they are also known, often play a vital role in supporting others with illness or disability living in the community. Overall numbers of carers are growing but numbers of older carers are increasing particularly rapidly as populations age worldwide. However, little research has focused on this important older group. This qualitative study therefore investigated older carers’ experiences and their perceptions of their role. Methods: Five digitally recorded focus groups with carers from Greater London were undertaken. Recordings were transcribed and analysed thematically. Findings: Forty-four carers aged 70–87 years participated. Most were female and two-thirds were spouses or partners. Overall, the carers thought their experiences were similar to those of younger adult carers and included both satisfying and challenging facets. However, they thought that some of the more negative aspects of the role were more difficult for older carers. Their own declining physical and emotional health and strength were seen as making it harder to access support and maintain social contacts. Loneliness both outside and within relationships featured prominently and was perceived as especially significant for housebound carers and when caring for someone with dementia. Many of these older carers also worried about the future when they might no longer be able to be a carer due to their own ill-health or death. Conclusions: Older carers find their role challenging and future investigations should focus on identifying means of reducing their isolation and supporting them with planning for the future. 

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Elsevier Ireland Ltd
ISBN/ISSN
0378-5122
Publication Year
2019
Issue Number
June
Journal Titles
Maturitas
Volume Number
124
Start Page
1
End Page
7