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Research Article  |   October 1989
The Meaning of Daily Activity in Family Caregiving for the Elderly
Author Affiliations
  • Betty Risteen Hasselkus, PhD, OTR, is Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Features
Research Article   |   October 1989
The Meaning of Daily Activity in Family Caregiving for the Elderly
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, October 1989, Vol. 43, 649-656. doi:10.5014/ajot.43.10.649
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, October 1989, Vol. 43, 649-656. doi:10.5014/ajot.43.10.649
Abstract

Sixty ethnographic interviews with 15 family caregivers for frail older people living in the community were analyzed to understand the meaning of activity in caregiving. Schön’s (1983) reflection-in-action framework was used to organize the data. Three goals of caregiving activity were derived: (a) getting things done, (b) achieving a sense of health and well-being for the care receiver, and (c) achieving a sense of health and well-being for the caregiver. The family caregiver was conceptualized as a lay practitioner involved in the clinical reasoning and ethical dilemmas integral to the provision of health care for the care receiver. The caregivers’ judgments regarding the prioritization and attainment of goals determined the forms of caregiving activities. Implications for occupational therapy practice and the relationship between the caregiver and the professional are discussed.