Patterns of caregiving following the institutionalization of elderly husbands.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the caregiving career of older women following the institutionalization of their husbands. Informed by the interpretive perspective in sociology and Hughes's (1971) concept of career, the study employed a longitudinal, prospective, and descriptive design and combined the quantitative and qualitative approaches. The data used in the analysis were drawn from a larger study designed to explore the transition to quasi-widowhood and wives' responses to their husbands' institutionalization. The caregiving career of wives was seen as a pattern of frequent visiting and increasing involvement in the provision of care. Over the nine-month period of the study, two caregiving patterns emerged that were distinguished by a variety of circumstances and interactions. Wives who relinquished aspects of caregiving were more likely to be caring for husbands who were, in large measure, cognitively impaired. These wives reported good morale, few symptoms of depression, change in marital closeness, and satisfaction with aspects of institutional care. Wives who continued to be heavily involved in caregiving were more likely to have husbands who were physically impaired. They had depression scores indicative of moderate to severe depression, reported no change in marital closeness, and were dissatisfied with aspects of institutional care.
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