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Assisted Living Transitions: Experiences of Family Members of Older African American Women

Background: Long-term care, also known as aging services, is evolving to meet the needs of the aging population in the United States, which is increasingly ethnically and racially diverse. The objective of this qualitative multiple case study was to understand how immediate family members experienced the transition of older African American women as they moved into assisted living facilities. Design: Black feminist theory provided a theoretical framework. Narrative interview data were collected from four adult children family caregivers who facilitated the move. Results: Three themes emerged from the content analysis: (a) Transition is not planned in advance and does not happen until a critical event or incident occurs that changes the older adult’s physical, social, or emotional status; (b) The transition was more difficult than had been thought for the older women and their families; and (c) Older adults expect that family members stay connected and involved after the transition, and family members may have similar expectations. Human services professionals may use the results to provide better-informed programs and services for older African American women and their family member caregivers. Conclusion: Social change implications suggest developing a transition model to improve assessment and evaluation processes, promote cultural competence initiatives, and promote a person-centered approach to the transition process in order to begin to identify a framework that might be useful for human services practitioners.

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