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Crossing a Line: A narrative of risk-taking by older women serving as caregivers

Background :Caregiving carried out by adults for other adults is increasing around the world as the demographics of many industrialized countries shift toward an older population with escalating care needs toward the end of life. Although much has been written about caregiving, few studies document the experiences of providing care as narrated by the caregivers. Aim: To explore the everyday experiences of older adults serving as primary informal caregivers to significant others. Methods: A process of narrative inquiry was used via repeated interviews with three older women caregivers providing care to family members or friends. The data were analyzed using storyboarding techniques and identifying critical turning points, culminating in a poetic transcription of the resulting narrative. Results: These caregivers describe a tension that exists across their experiences and communication with authorities on whom they rely for guidance and collaboration. Situations in which this tension pushes the caregivers to act in ways that represent risk to themselves or their care recipients are central to the collective narrative. Conclusion and significance: The everyday experiences of older adult caregivers include not only familiar care routines, but also advocacy on behalf of care recipients and negotiations with external authorities, resulting at times in unwelcome risk-taking. Their narrative warrants attention due to the lack of power described by caregivers when acting on behalf of their care recipients and the need for those in authority to recognize their dilemma.

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Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
Elsevier B V
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Journal of Aging Studies
Volume Number
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End Page