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Intergenerational relationsEuropean perspectives in family and society$
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Isabelle Albert and Dieter Ferring

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447300984

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447300984.001.0001

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Family caregiving for older people from a life-span developmental point of view

Family caregiving for older people from a life-span developmental point of view

(p.223) Thirteen Family caregiving for older people from a life-span developmental point of view
Intergenerational relations

Thomas Boll

Dieter Ferring

Policy Press

Family members are the most important informal carers for older people. Past research has primarily focused on caregiver burden and its detrimental impact on family carers’ health. More recent research has highlighted caregiver gains and its positive effects on health and quality of care. However, both branches underestimate the active role of family carers as authors of important decisions for their own and their care-recipients’ life (e.g. personal caregiving vs. initiating home admission). Moreover, they do not provide a differentiated analysis of carers’ emotions and their motivating consequences. To resolve these shortcomings, family caregiving is analysed with core concepts from life-span developmental psychology. Here, action- and emotion-theoretical approaches are drawn on to clarify how the multi-faceted caregiving situation partly frustrates and partly fulfils family carers’ goals concerning their own development and that of the care recipient and how this gives rise to family carers’ emotions and action tendencies. Family carers’ goals, goal conflicts, and major action possibilities are highlighted as well as goal adjustments and the development of competencies and personality attributes in response to caregiving. It is concluded that concepts from life-span developmental psychology enable a more comprehensive analysis of family caregiving and promise future progress in research.

Keywords:   caregivers, caregiver burden, elder care, family members, life span development, reasoned action, goals, decision making, emotions

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