A Qualitative Study of Non-Caregiving Adult Children's Experiences of a Parent's Alzheimer's Disease

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Date
2008-01-29
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

Although there is abundant research on the etiology of Alzheimer's disease and its impact on primary caregivers, there is relatively little research that examines the consequences of the disease for entire families, and no literature that exclusively studies the experiences of non-caregiving family members. Seeking to explore the experience of non-caregivers, this qualitative study examined how adult children of an Alzheimer's patient who were not the caregiver for their parent experienced the onset and progression of the disease. Using the guiding theoretical frameworks of phenomenology, family systems theory, and ambiguous loss, in-depth interviews were conducted with three individuals and were coded for themes. The main themes found included externalization of symptoms, belief in the Alzheimer's diagnosis, acceptance, flexibility, sibling and parental relationships, communication, planning, shared family philosophy, family of origin roles, and boundary ambiguity. Implications for clinical practice and suggestions for future research are included.

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Keywords
caregiving, ambiguous loss, family systems, non-caregivers, Alzheimer's disease
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