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The experience of caring for an older relative in Chile: going beyond the burden of care

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2020

Josefa Palacios*
Affiliation:
Millennium Nucleus for the Study of the Life Course and Vulnerability (MLIV), Chile Escuela de Gobierno, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Pedro Pérez
Affiliation:
Millennium Nucleus for the Study of the Life Course and Vulnerability (MLIV), Chile Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Andrew Webb
Affiliation:
Millennium Nucleus for the Study of the Life Course and Vulnerability (MLIV), Chile Instituto de Sociología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
*
*Corresponding author. Email: mjpalaci@uc.cl

Abstract

Care in Chile, as in most Latin American countries, remains largely the responsibility of female family members in informal arrangements with little government support. The analysis of caring for a dependent older person has commonly been approached from the burden of care perspective, focusing on the tasks carried out, the time spent providing care and the negative (burdensome) consequences for the care-giver. This study reveals the daily experiences of family care-givers of older people through a thematic data analysis of 42 interviews with main family carers of an older person as experienced by the carers themselves. Findings highlight the complex nature of care work. Tasks carried out do not necessarily relate to the intensity of the care experience or a negative experience. Care-givers can work long hours providing care and still feel comfortable and find the experience emotionally rewarding. Care-givers might also carry out only a few tasks and experience pressure. The broader social and economic context can generate constraints that make a specific set of tasks easier or harder on the carer, but these contextual factors do not fully explain the experience of care. Relations, and particularly those that carry an emotional component such as the carer-older person, carer-siblings and carer-spouse, must be considered alongside the tasks and the difficulties or potential constraints of the context to understand the care experience.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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