Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Nursing




Judith Lothian, Ph.D

Committee Member

Judith Lucas, Ed.D

Committee Member

Munira Wells, Ph.D


Adult children, parents, aging parents, caregiving, chronic illness, terminal illness, full time caregiving, part time caregiving


Background: An estimated 35 million Americans are age 65 or older, and this population is expected to double within 25 years. When the normal progression of life for an aging person is interrupted, adult children are often suddenly faced with assuming care of their parent(s). Currently adult child caregivers of aging parents, work up to 100 hours per month at caregiving. Problem Statement: A limited body of empirical studies exists on the caregiving of aging parents exclusively by their adult children. Despite the amount of time dedicated to parental caregiving little is known about the experience of this exclusive caregiver group. The question being asked is “What is the experience of adult children caregiving for aging parents?” Method: A phenomenological approach was used to gain insight into the lived experience of an adult child caregiving for their parent(s). Interviews were conducted with six daughters and one daughter in law. Interviews were audio taped, transcribed and analyzed using traditional qualitative techniques. Themes were identified and presented through the use of storytelling and narratives. Results: Assumption of caregiving tasks for a parent often occur unexpectedly. Adult child caregivers then undergo significant changes in their family life, employment, filial and social relationships. They experience a myriad of unpleasant emotions and loss, yet their viewpoints remain extremely positive. Conclusions: Assessing the physical, educational, and emotional needs of caregivers gives nurses the opportunity not only to provide instructions, but much needed holistic support and self-care instructions as well. These conversations can help improve the adult child’s caregiving experience and that of their parents.