As individuals age and live longer than ever before, the nature of the family has changed. Families are carried along in the aging process. This is not only the century of old age, but also the century of the multigenerational family. We are only beginning to understand the impact of family caregiving on these multigenerational families that provide both instrumental and effective care to frail elders.
The Family Caregiving to Frail Elders project, directed by Priscilla Blanton, was conceptualized to focus on the processes of caregiving to frail elders by their families. Blanton interviewed two to three family members about the process of caregiving to a frail elder that was physically and/or cognitively impaired. Twenty families were included in the project. Family members from different generations were interviewed and the primary caregiver was interviewed in all of the families.
Little research has been done with more than one person in a caregiving family being interviewed. The typical focus has been to look at the experience of caregiving for primary caregivers. Using the family as the unit of analysis in this project was an important and needed aspect of the study. Each family member was interviewed for one to two hours about their lived experiences with and perceptions of the caregiving process as it was experienced by their family. Interviews were audio taped and transcribe verbatim. The use of qualitative methodology was another important aspect of the project since most studies of caregiving have been quantitative in their approach. Graduate students have been actively involved in all aspects of the project. Two dissertations and one thesis project have been conducted from the data set. Analysis of the data is ongoing.