Caregiving in Central Texas : the role of adult day centers
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During the 20th century, improvements in medical care and quality of life resulted in greatly increased life spans for all groups in the United States and elsewhere. The result has been an increase in the number of years in which one enjoys good health and a high level of functioning. However, aging populations also result in an almost inconceivable increase in the prevalence of those suffering from dementia. As the number of individuals who survive into their eighties and nineties increases, the burden of dementia care increases for families and society. In this dissertation I examine the sources of care of older individuals with dementia, paying particular attention to the role of adult day center (ADC) in relieving the burden of dementia care for families. Previous research shows that in the majority cases of families provide extensive informal care for an individual with dementia, but the demands of this task can cause tremendous strain due to the nature and progression of the disease. Due to an increase in women’s labor force participation since the 1960s, the supply of individuals free to provide unpaid care has shrunk, and those who do provide this care have less time to devote to it. This may lead to role strain, where conflict arises due to the competing demands of having multiple roles. Many families in this situation decide to utilize adult day care to help cope with this burden. ADC is particularly appealing since it provides many support services without the steep cost of nursing homes. Through in-depth interviews and field observation, my project investigates the increased prevalence of ADCs and outsourced care for individuals with dementia through three lenses: first, I analyze the micro-level dynamics of these family units and whether ADCs and caregiving literacy specifically help to reduce conflict, strain, and disorganization. Additionally, I examine the pathways into the caregiving career and ADC utilization. Finally, I present the concept of “caregiving literacy,” exploring how caregivers further this knowledge, how it influences ADC utilization, and the role that ADCs play in the acquisition of further caregiving literacy.