Interview and observational data obtained from caregiver-care recipient dyads were analyzed in developing a theory of enrichment that explains how some families use pleasurable or meaningful experiences in their caregiving to frail elders. The personal history and frailty trajectory of both caregiver and care recipient, the quality of the dyadic relationship, and the caregiving situation are antecedents to enrichment processes. Core elements influencing the nature of enriching events include acquiring symbolic meaning, performing activity, and fine tuning. Categories of enrichment events are customary routines and innovative routine breakers. Consequences of enrichment are relationship and identity sustenance for both caregiver and care recipient, comfort for the care recipient, and rewards of meaning for the caregiver.
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