Caregiving for Parents Who Harmed You: A Conceptual Review

Clin Gerontol. Oct-Dec 2021;44(5):507-519. doi: 10.1080/07317115.2021.1920531. Epub 2021 May 2.


Objectives: This paper aims to provide a conceptual review of prior research on the effect of a history of parental childhood maltreatment on the experiences and outcomes of adult-child caregivers who provide care to their perpetrating parents.Methods: We performed a search using several databases including PsycINFO, ScienceDirect, and Academic Search Premier (EBSCO) for relevant papers and reviewed reference sections of selected papers.Results: Histories of childhood maltreatment are associated with adverse psychological health in adult-child caregivers and reduced frequencies of providing support to their parents. The potential factors affecting the experiences and outcomes of such caregivers include contemporaneous relationships with perpetrating parents; caregivers' sense of choice about providing care; opportunities for posttraumatic growth; and participating in care through the end of life.Conclusions: Caregiving for perpetrating parents can be particularly challenging due to complex, intersecting factors; thus, healthcare practitioners' increased awareness of and knowledge about such caregivers are crucial to provide effective support.Clinical Implications: We highlighted the importance of ensuring caregivers' sense of choice and assessing their posttraumatic growth. In caregiving at the end of life, we noted the importance of using a trauma-informed approach when interacting with caregivers and their family members during illness and bereavement.

Keywords: Childhood maltreatment; family caregiving; intergenerational solidarity; life-course perspective; posttraumatic growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement*
  • Caregivers
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Parents*