The meaning for elders of receiving family care

Janice D. Crist

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Aims. This paper reports a study undertaken to broaden nurse clinicians', policy-makers', and researchers' understandings of what it means to elders to receive family care. Background. The number of older people receiving assistance at home will increase tremendously in coming decades in proportion to the rapidly increasing aged population. Seventy to 80% of the care received by elders is provided by family members. As more elders with fewer family carers are predicted, nursing's insight into the family care phenomenon becomes even more important. The literature contains reports of specific aspects of family care. Most results include reports of elders dreading giving up their independence in the context of Euro-American United States society's highly valued cultural norm of independence. No studies have explored elders' views of the meaning of receiving family care. Methods. Hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology was chosen, and a sample of nine elders (five women and four men) was interviewed. Participants were asked for descriptions of their day-to-day experiences of receiving family care in two to five interviews, and were observed interacting with their family carers in naturalistic settings. Findings. Elders living at home were found to incorporate help from family members comfortably into their lives. They viewed themselves as autonomous and able to maintain balance between autonomy and dependence on loved ones. Conclusions. Receiving family care may have positive meaning for elders, especially when the care is provided within the context of positive relationships with family carers. These findings are in contrast to previous reports. If validated in further research, they could be used to inform practice and policy in health care systems involved in collaborating with families to develop care arrangements for community-living elders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-493
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of advanced nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Elders
  • Family care
  • Gerontological nursing
  • Interpretive phenomenology
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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