The start of caring for an elderly dependent family member: a qualitative metasynthesis

The increase in life expectancy is one of the greatest human achievements of recent times, but the fact of living longer carries the likelihood of suffering chronic and disabling diseases that involve increasing dependency. The family usually takes care of an elderly relative who suddenly becomes dependent. Taking care of a dependent person involves changes and assumption of new responsibilities by the caregivers, which change their lives significantly.

In order to explore the experiences during the early stages of a person becoming the caregiver of an elderly dependent relative who has suddenly experienced an acute illness, a metasynthesis of qualitative research were conducted including 19 articles.

Following the analysis, three categories appeared that involved the process of becoming a caregiver:

  • ‘Taking on the role’: including life changes, caregivers’ uncertainty and confusion, and caregivers’ acceptance or resistance
  • ‘Beginning to realise’: including caregivers’ new needs, impact, and appraisal
  • ‘Implementing strategies’: including seeking help and self-learning, reordering family and social relationships, solving problems, and devising strategies to decrease negative emotions and stress

The synthesis provides a comprehensive understanding of the experience of becoming a caregiver in order to help health-care professionals to adapt care plans to this situation.

 The full text is available at: Moral-Fernández L, Frías-Osuna A, Moreno-Cámara S, Palomino-Moral PA, Del-Pino-Casado R. The start of caring for an elderly dependent family member: a qualitative metasynthesis. BMC Geriatrics. 2018; 18: 228

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