Differences in the Experiences and Support Needs of Family Caregivers to Stroke Survivors: Does Age Matter?

Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 1.45). 11/2008; 15(6):593-601. DOI: 10.1310/tsr1506-593
Source: PubMed


The rehabilitation stage of a stroke survivor's recovery provides an opportunity to prepare family caregivers for the supportive role they will play in the community. The goal of this qualitative study was to learn about family caregivers' experiences and support needs during the rehabilitation phase to inform program development.
We recruited family caregivers within the first 6 months post stroke. Nine caregivers participated in 40- to 60-minute in-depth qualitative interviews where the personal needs of caregivers were illuminated. Data were analyzed using content analysis.
An overriding theme was differences in personal needs between older and younger caregivers. We interviewed five younger caregivers (55 years of age) and four older caregivers (>55 years of age). Younger caregivers identified informational support and training as important parts of their social support whereas older caregivers did not. Younger caregivers were also more likely to complain or criticize the health care system and staff than older caregivers. A common theme among older caregivers was to focus on the importance of keeping a positive outlook throughout the experience.
Caregiver experiences and support needs varied according to age. This suggests that support programs should consider age as a factor when tailoring interventions.

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    • "This finding is surprising, if taking into account the possibility that younger caregivers have been reported to be faced with more competing demands than older caregivers. Smith, et al (2008), found that family caregivers of stroke survivors reported different experiences and personal needs based on their age, and that younger caregivers were more likely to be unhappy with the health care system than older caregivers (Smith, Gignoac, Richardson, & Cameron, 2008). Younger caregivers may be active in the workforce, and may still have children in the home to care for in addition to the care recipient. "
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