Dissertation Abstract

Old Age and Caregiving in a Black Community.

Publication Number:  AG9116002
Author:  Lawson, Sylvia Cicily Claire
School:  University of Florida
Date:  1990
Pages:  286
Subject:  Patient Care

Currently existing formal and informal support systems necessary for providing a better quality of life for noninstitutionalized elderly persons, especially those who are poor and Black, may be inadequate. This research employs a conceptual framework and methodology designed to examine knowledgeability, accessibility, and use of services among noninstitutionalized elderly Black persons. The social and cultural situations of Black elderly persons are examined to assess whether these elements determine and or contribute to their participation in, and knowledge about, available formal sources of assistance for instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). The analytical model differentiates elderly persons who are users from non-users of formal services and assesses their knowledgeability regarding formal and informal services which are in place to assist them with various IADL functions.

Information was gathered, over a period of approximately twelve months, on a convenience sample of 71 elderly persons in an all Black community in central Florida, using in-depth interviews and participant observation. This approach provides process data rather than the typical snapshot supplied through one-shot survey interviews. The nature of the design of the study allowed for the cross-checking and rechecking of what people say and do, increasing the reliability and accuracy of the data.

The data gathered by this research do not support assumptions about kinship patterns of informal caregiving that place great emphasis on the role of the Black extended family. A large proportion of the elderly studied were living alone. The findings suggest that Black elderly persons have limited awareness of the various services available through government agencies to assist them with their IADL functions. They instead utilize informal agency sources of help or do without needed services. The informal system of caregiving in this community also appears to fall short of providing the assistance needed by Black elderly persons.

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