First Advisor

Pamela J. Miller

Term of Graduation

Fall 2006

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work and Social Research




Hospice care, Caregivers, Male caregivers, Sons, Terminal care



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vii, 112 pages)


Family care is common in the majority of families in the United States, the primary care providers for older adult family members most often are wives, daughters or daughters-in-law. As the proportion of the oldest old continues to expand so too will the need for family careproviders. Recent demographic changes have served to deplete the pool of available caregivers. Caregiving research has naturally evolved into investigations into the experiences of women with little attention paid to the care contributions men make.

This investigation examined the perceptions of sons who served as primary caregivers for their dying elderly parents. It was an initial attempt to learn about the contributions they provided and the challenges they faced, in order to better understand their world view of caregiving separate from their female counterparts.

A secondary analysis of data from a study entitled, "Family Perceptions of Community-Based Dying" conducted at the Oregon Health & Science University's (OHSU) Center for Ethics in Health Care and School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon was used to investigate the experiences of thirty sons providing care to elderly parents. A qualitative approach was utilized to analyze the responses to three open ended questions from these caregivers.

The implications from this analysis suggest these thirty sons became actively engaged in the care provided and the decisions made in relation to their parents at end-of-life. Unlike other caregiver groups studied to date these men identified dementia, nutrition-related issues and respiratory problems as the symptoms their parents endured at end-of-life which they found most distressing.

Research on supportive services for male caregivers has been limited. Additional efforts are needed to gain a greater understanding into the needs of these son caregivers so that gender relevant programs can be created in order to support the caregiving roles they are engaging in. Based on the need to engender all family care providers at end of life, given the dwindling number of available family members and the increasing need for family care for this older adult population at the end of their lives, additional study is needed.


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