[Grandchildren in family care giving for people with dementia: experiences and evaluations--results from a life-world-oriented study]

Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2011 Dec;44(6):397-404. doi: 10.1007/s00391-011-0234-x.
[Article in German]


Dementia often has a serious impact on family life in household care giving situations. The qualitative study in applied gerontology presented here focuses on the subjective experiences of grandchildren and the intergenerational relationships of the family members. It includes 15 in-depth retrospective interviews with young adults (11 female, 4 male). The theoretical background is a sociological life-world-oriented approach by Alfred Schütz. The grandchildren reported a wide range of experiences with positive and enriching incidents prevailing, e.g., individual and familial competence in care giving, increased contact between family members, i.e., so-called"family cohesion", improvements in the grandchildren's social responsibility, and their acquired knowledge of the needs of older people and of persons with dementia. Individual stress was experienced because of so-called "challenging behavior" by the grandparents (e.g., aggressive behavior) or family circumstances when the demands were too great.A third category includes those experiences which seem to be "taken for granted" and are regarded as insignificant by the grandchildren. Because this category encompasses many of the grandchildren's own care giving activities, the widespread assumption that dementia must always cause younger carers stress is not true in general. The data suggest that living in a family that has difficulties in coping with the situation might be more demanding than dealing with the behavior and psychological symptoms of dementia. The grandchildren should be given access to age-appropriate information about the disease and the ways to communicate effectively with their grandparent needing care.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult