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Research Article  |   August 1993
Death in Very Old Age: A Personal Journey of Caregiving
Author Affiliations
  • Betty Risteen Hasselkus, PhD, OTR, is Associate Professor and Coordinator, Occupational Therapy Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1532
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Research
Research Article   |   August 1993
Death in Very Old Age: A Personal Journey of Caregiving
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 1993, Vol. 47, 717-723. doi:10.5014/ajot.47.8.717
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 1993, Vol. 47, 717-723. doi:10.5014/ajot.47.8.717
Abstract

This paper describes a personal journey of caregiving for a very old family member during dying and death. The phenomenology of caregiving reveals the inner struggle experienced by all caregivers, lay and professional, between the needs of support both the living and the dying of the terminally ill person. The lived experience unfolds in phases of caregiving that support a stage theory of development in professionals’ work with dying persons. The concept of presencing or connecting is a vital component of terminal care and bas implications for occupational therapy practice. Occupational therapists can use their knowledge and understanding of occupation to bring about connecting in the dying experience. The contributions of all participants in the dying experience – family caregivers, the dying person, and health professionals – are important as sources of mutual support in the work of dying.