Caregiving women and the US welfare state: The case of elder kin care by low-income women

Debbie H. Ward, Patricia A. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Long-term care in the unique US welfare state is largely a private responsibility, and current long-term care policy rests on the assumption that care—of the elderly, in our example—will be provided by women. Because alternatives to personal care of dependent kin are available based on ability to pay, lower-income women bear a disproportionate burden. A study was undertaken to examine the experience of caregiving in a convenience sample of 10 low-income women providing informal care to a frail elder. Half the study sample were women of color. Responses to the core question, “What is taking care of… like for you?” were analyzed using phenomenologic analysis techniques. A pattern of four interrelated key themes, which describe a transitional process beginning with inevitability of the caregiving role and ending with acquiescence to it, were identified. These data are placed in the political context that surrounds caregiving; such analyses are important both to generate theory and to identify possible points of intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-58
Number of pages15
JournalHolistic nursing practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregiving
  • Elderly
  • Low income
  • Women caregivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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