Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Abstract

It has been estimated that 196,000 (38%) informal carers in Australia are aged over 65 years, with the majority of these carers providing care to someone in their own age group. In particular, it is women who have been providing most informal care. Recognition of this has highlighted women’s needs for psychological support in their caregiving roles. However, research into women’s experiences of this phenomenon is scarce. The present study aimed to explore the lived experiences of women in this context, asking the question “what are the perceived psychological impacts of aged care on older women who are informal carers?” Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten female informal aged carers who were between the ages of 65 and 76 years. Using an interpretative phenomenological approach, three main themes have emerged: socio-cultural; spiritual; and personal. The interviews revealed that deleterious caregiving consequences originated from issues of loss, entrapment, obligation, social isolation, guilt, and uncertainty. Positive caregiving consequences encompassed finding a sense of meaning in life through the caregiving experience. The findings conclude that health care providers can take a lead role in working with this group in three ways: Firstly, in identifying circumstances under which negative caregiving outcomes might be more pronounced; secondly, intervening with individualised care strategies to meet carers’ needs, and finally; improving carers’ access to mental health services. These may provide such supports so that carers do not feel alone and isolated in their roles. Future research is required to assess gaps in the understanding of carers’ experiences of informal aged care across a variety of contexts, and to improve service provision in this area.

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