Dianne–wife and caregiver to her brain damaged husband
Sandra–wife and caregiver to her husband who had back surgery
Nancy–Currently a part time caregiver for and elderly women
Gwen–former caregiver for a variety of patients
There was a lot of great insight gained from these interviews. Each woman that we talked to (although our topic is not exclusive to female caregivers) had a lot of great answers for our questions and gave wonderful, entertaining stories and examples that we will be able to use in our subculture data collection.
As we asked about the pros and cons of being a caregiver, all of the ladies seemed to give us similar answers. To start off with, they all truly enjoyed what they did, and didn't consider it a hardship, even if it wasn't by choice that they were in their situation. They have big hearts and only have the best interests of their patients in mind. While it can sometimes be difficult to handle the mental and physical strain their responsibility puts on them, they would have it no other way. They all seemed to unanimously say that patience is the key to the work they do, since sometimes it is slow, or sometimes patients are not cooperative, or something goes wrong.
They have many concerns that come along with their job that might not be that obvious just from doing secondary research. For instance, their own age is a huge concern among them. Since they are baby boomers, 46-64, they are beginning to encounter health concerns that come with getting older. Along with the physical strain that they put on themselves while caregiving, this can add up to a decline in health. Also, money issues are another problem for caregivers and their families. Depending on the state of the person they are caring for, they might have to give up their job to take care of the person. And also, their patient might have been formally employed. Then, with the loss of one or two incomes coupled with medical bills, finances are a big concern.
Overall, this is a group that has a lot of love and a lot of problems. They also have great stories to tell.
For more on this, watch for Familial Baby Boomer Caregivers: An Insight by Kelsey Anderson and Joseph Shopen in your local bookstore. (tehehe)