Author(s): Kelley LS
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: Research on care of community-dwelling frail elders typically includes formal health service providers and adult members of the informal care system. Involvement of children and adolescents with elder care is largely undocumented. The aim of this article is to describe children's involvement in elder care. These findings are part of an ethnographic community study that examined common Western assumptions about elder care in a St. Lucian village. METHODS: Data were obtained in a four-phase, 5-year, community-based ethnographic field study that included in-depth network analysis of elder households. RESULT: One hundred eighty-eight informal caregivers assisted 14 elder networks in obtaining the things they needed to live through provision of 355 care activities. Forty-five children (ages 3(1/2) to 16) provided 111 of 355 (31\%) care activities. The frail elders gave adults and children community member caregivers 196 and 94 benefits, respectively. DISCUSSION: Minor children are integrally involved in reciprocal exchanges for elder care in this village. Although they do not provide all of the same care activities as adults, they clearly assist elders, especially with running errands. Elders emphasized different motivational mechanisms for involving minor children and adults in their care networks.
This article was published in J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research