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Caregiving and quality of life

The increase in life expectancy for adults with learning disabilities has extended the caring role for their parents. This study examined the experiences of older parents who provide long-term care for their adult children with learning disabilities and how they conceptualise their quality of life. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 27 older parent carers from four London boroughs and were analysed using framework technique. Findings indicate that most parents appraised their quality of life positively and reported benefits, despite the challenges they had to negotiate daily. The benefits from caregiving, more so in later life, were: a connected family from shared caregiving; a sense of belonging; purposeful living; a reciprocal relationship with their adult children; and personal transformations from providing care that improved their quality of life. The challenges that participants regularly encountered were: multiple losses (sleep, career, identity and friends); the added stress of the government's Personalisation Agenda of caring services; struggles for access to services; searching for a diagnosis; worry about future care and fear of abuse when carers are unable to continue in their role; unhelpful attitudes of health and social care professionals; and a lack of empathy from friends as well as the public towards people with learning disabilities. Caregiving and quality of life are inextricably linked and the difficulties that parents experienced were mainly associated with socio-structural barriers, rather than their children's disabilities. Importantly, the findings inform the practice of social workers and others who support this unique group of carers by providing new insights into how caring impacts on quality of life over time and how best these parents' needs can be met. This study makes a specific contribution to understanding the lived realities of older carers and extends current conceptualisations of caregiving and quality of life among older people. 

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
Taylor & Francis
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Issue Number
Journal Titles
History of the Family
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