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Guardians of health: The dimensions of elder caregiving among women in a Mexico City neighborhood

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  • Mendez-Luck, Carolyn A.
  • Kennedy, David P.
  • Wallace, Steven P.

Abstract

Little is known about the family care of older adults in Mexico and the role of women in this process. To begin to fill this knowledge gap, this paper describes how a small sample of low-income women in one Mexico City neighborhood conceptualized the caregiver role and identified the forms of assistance they gave to their older relatives on a daily basis. A grounded theory approach was used to collect and analyze the data. Forty-one semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with female caregivers. The age of participants was between 19 and 83 years, and care recipients between 56 and 92 years. The relationship of caregiver to care recipient was wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, sibling, and other relative. The mean length of time providing care was 5 years. Most participants were not employed outside the home, and the median monthly household income was 2000Â pesos. We found that caregiving was a life-changing event, with 27 of 41 participants viewing themselves as guardians. Caregivers' emphasis was on care recipients' emotional needs in order to provide "the most precious gift" of "time and attention." Two forms of assistance were 'keeping company' and 'watching out' as safeguards against poor health or further decline in health. These findings increase the cultural understanding of caregiving in Mexico. Further research is needed to test the caregiving concepts identified in this study.

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  • Mendez-Luck, Carolyn A. & Kennedy, David P. & Wallace, Steven P., 2009. "Guardians of health: The dimensions of elder caregiving among women in a Mexico City neighborhood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 228-234, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:2:p:228-234
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Merril Silverstein & Zhen Cong & Shuzhuo Li, 2006. "Intergenerational Transfers and Living Arrangements of Older People in Rural China: Consequences for Psychological Well-Being," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(5), pages 256-266.
    2. Ariela Lowenstein, 2007. "Solidarity–Conflict and Ambivalence: Testing Two Conceptual Frameworks and Their Impact on Quality of Life for Older Family Members," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 62(2), pages 100-107.
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    4. Holroyd, Eleanor, 2001. "Hong Kong Chinese daughters' intergenerational caregiving obligations: : a cultural model approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(9), pages 1125-1134, November.
    5. Martin Pinquart & Silvia Sörensen, 2007. "Correlates of Physical Health of Informal Caregivers: A Meta-Analysis," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 62(2), pages 126-137.
    6. Martin Pinquart & Silvia Sörensen, 2006. "Gender Differences in Caregiver Stressors, Social Resources, and Health: An Updated Meta-Analysis," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(1), pages 33-45.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yahirun, Jenjira J. & Sheehan, Connor M. & Hayward, Mark D., 2017. "Adult children's education and changes to parents' physical health in Mexico," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 93-101.
    2. Elizabeth McDermott & Carolyn A. Mendez-Luck, 2018. "The Processes of Becoming a Caregiver Among Mexican-Origin Women: A Cultural Psychological Perspective," SAGE Open, , vol. 8(2), pages 21582440187, April.

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