Older adults with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) rely heavily on caregivers for assistance with care. However, we know little about their psychosocial experiences and their needs for support in managing MCC. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of caregivers of older adults living in the community with MCC.
This qualitative study was a secondary analysis of previously collected data from caregivers in Ontario and Alberta, Canada. Participants included caregivers of older adults (65 years and older) with three or more chronic conditions. Data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed using Thorne’s interpretive description approach.
Most of the 47 caregiver participants were female (76.6%), aged 65 years of age or older (61.7%), married (87.2%) and were spouses to the care recipient (68.1%). Caregivers’ experiences of caring for community-living older adults with MCC were complex and included: (a) dealing with the demands of caregiving; (b) prioritizing chronic conditions; (c) living with my own health limitations; (d) feeling socially isolated and constrained; (e) remaining committed to caring; and (f) reaping the rewards of caregiving.
Healthcare providers can play key roles in supporting caregivers of older adults with MCC by providing education and support on managing MCC, actively engaging them in goal setting and care planning, and linking them to appropriate community health and social support services. Communities can create environments that support caregivers in areas such as social participation, social inclusion, and community support and health services.