RESEARCH STUDIES ABOUT
CAREGIVING BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
She always made sure that we had enough to eat before we went to bed and so now
one of us feeds her every evening to make sure that she has enough to eat before she
goes to bed.
—A resident's daughter, nine years after her mother's admission
THIS CHAPTER WILL REVIEW research findings from studies about caregiving this are relevant to the experiences of the 75 residents of Acacia Nursing Home and their families who are the subjects of this study. Considerable research has focused on the relationship of the caregiver to the person receiving assistance, gender and caregiving, caregiving tasks, motivation for caregiving, and emotional responses to caregiving. This chapter also includes research in the less frequently studied areas of caregiving and ethnicity and race and nursing home placement. It is notable that in many caregiving studies the racial/ethnic background of the older adults and their caregivers is not indicated and that caregiving studies have generally not addressed the significance of extended kin and fictive kin, people who may be unrelated by blood or marriage.
In the study at Acacia, the caregivers who were interviewed were adult children and grandchildren, husbands and wives, a former wife, friends, nieces and nephews, a daughter-in-law, and siblings of the residents. The fact that they were assisting a relative is consistent with research findings documenting that the primary providers of instrumental and emotional support for disabled and dependent older adults are relatives and friends (Mui, Choi, and Monk 1998; Shanas 1979). Research indicates that older people remain in close contact with their relatives, friends, and neighbors (Kovar 1986), and most will turn to relatives and friends when they need help (Feder, Komisar, and Niefeld 2000). In fact, since more people in the United States are living to advanced ages, family caregiving for older relatives has become more common than in the past (Toseland and Smith 1991).