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Role Strain in Family Care Giving Research Paper

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Updated: May 27th, 2020


Role strain in family care giving is a common phenomenon in most families. This is arises from the fact that in every one out of five families, there is a situation that requires care giving. It facilitates caring for those suffering in one way or another in a family and creating a conducive environment for them. Such groups include elderly parents, the sick, disabled and children.

Formerly, family care giving was entirely left to the family members but family care professionals have nowadays taken the role. This has been due to advanced technology and increased responsibilities in the family set-up. Family centered care is always the best since the recipient receives dignified services due to the relationship between him and the caregiver.

This paper will look at all the above plus the fact that this role has several challenges, which may arise when the recipient is not contented with the kind of services he is receiving or when the responsibility is beyond caregiver’s ability. To curb some of these challenges it is good for the whole family to take the care giving responsibility. When the role is divided, it becomes easier and less strenuous.

It is also important for the caregiver to share his experiences with friends and colleagues for mutual understanding and assistance when need be. Family care giving is not only challenging but also fulfilling as it leaves both the recipient and the caregiver satisfied and with a stronger bond.

Finally, it is advisable for the caregiver to seek for assistance from care giving organization in order to ease the burden of meeting the expenses alone. Therefore, this paper will discuss the role of family caregiver, the strain they encounter and the possible solutions to such strains. In addition, information will be gathered from various sources including books, journals and medical websites in compilation of this paper.


Family care giving involves planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare where there is a relationship between the caregiver and the recipient.

A family to the recipient refers to all those in loving relationship, be it blood or legal who can be responsible for caring and support whereas caregivers refer to those who provide care and support formerly and in formerly. In addition, formal caregivers are the health care professionals like nurses while informal healthcare providers refer to family, friends, neighbors etc (Lattanzi-Licht, Mahoney and Miller, 1998).

Family care giving is a wide topic that involves diverse activities from different family members. It does not refer to single person in the family since there are many areas in the family that require care and these area are shared among the family members.

Some of the roles in a family that require care are looking after the elderly, parents take care of their children until when they are old enough to take care of themselves, disabled and even providing for the family needs among others (zakaly, 2010).

Actually, when a family member falls sick, it is so natural that the family members want to offer tender loving care. In marriages, partners vow to take care of each other under all circumstances till death do them part

Elderly people in a family are in most cases, parents who were caregivers in the beginning, who are usually taken care of by their adult children. The adult children may take part in providing for the family needs like educating their younger siblings and if the parents are too old, they may need physical attention.

Most adult children feel obliged to offer support to their elderly parents as a way of appreciation for bringing them up especially when they have good income. Others who may not be earning enough income find it difficult though they may be willing to help.

One obstacle that make this kind of care giving difficult arises when parents find it difficult to share roles with their children (zakaly, 2010) or when some adult children are either straining financially or are not willing to help at all.

The sick require to be attended physically since most of them may be weak and need comfort to prevent them from taking themselves as bothers or feeling as if they are out of place.

In most cases, sick people are discriminated in families especially when they are suffering from chronic ailments like HIV, cancer, leprosy etc that makes them look down upon themselves. Some people have so much difficulty in caring for the sick thus prefer taking them to the health care institution.

Most disabled people in our families require a lot of care giving. Disabled people are either mentally handicapped or physically challenged. In both cases, none of the party can survive without attention from family members. The mentally handicapped have to literally be directed in everything required of them and it may be very challenging for the party taking care since every minute of their life must be monitored.

For physically challenged people, they do not require so much attention, only physical assistance since they may not be in a position to do one thing or the other. They are better placed since they can reason logically and can be able to call for help when need arises.

The other group that requires care giving in the family is the children. They are mostly taken care of by the parents unless under circumstances when the parents have passed on or are working. Incase of orphans, a guardian, well-wisher, the extended family or home for orphans may come in for care giving. When the parents are working, they may hire a house help to take care of the children.

Children are usually not self-driven thus require a lot of attention from care giver. They need to be kept clean, provided for all their needs, and directed in every step of their life to give them a good foundation of their life. It may be rather difficult to take care of very young children who can’t express their demands in another way apart from crying.

In the earlier era, family care giving was more of a family responsibility, especially for the sick, disabled and the elderly; however, neighbors and a local physician may visit occasionally when need arises.

In the twenty-first century, most people have turned to the hospitals and nursing homes due to technological advancement, work schedules, fear of responsibility and more so, irresponsibility (Kovacs, Bellin and Fauri, 2006). This essay will discuss role strain, stress, and coping of family care giving.

Principles of family centered care

The recipient is taken care of with dignity and respect. This comes automatically in most cases due to the relationship between the recipient and the caregiver. Healthcare providers play a significant role in conveying relevant and purposeful health information to the patients and their family members, thus strengthening the bond between them.

The caregiver and the recipient build on their strength by getting involved in activities that promote control and independence. The cooperation between the caregivers and the patients occurs during policy formulation, professional awareness creation, and training and in the process of providing care to the patients.

Division of Care Giving Roles in a Family

Many women do not differentiate care giving roles and the family roles they have been entitled to over time. In many cases, when a care giving role in a family arises, they embrace it unquestionably just like the ordinary family roles (Bearon, 2007).

In other instances, one family member takes the whole burden of care giving thus becoming stressed and burdened over a long time. This may result to physical, financial, and emotional strain, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness and this can be overwhelming and may end up into a crisis.

To avoid this, the family should first identify the area that requires care giving. Depending on the need that requires attention, they should come up with a long-term plan on how to handle the matter. The plan should ensure that everyone in the family has a role to play in the given matter. To make responsibility easier, the plan should be divided into large and small tasks, which should further be divided in to time, money, and labor.

There should be frequent family meetings and a director to monitor the progress of the situation at hand and to renegotiate on the responsibilities if need be. The closest person concerning the matter should be the director and he should be able to source support from within the family and even from outside (Heath, 2010).

Typical care giving tasks may include assistance with house chores, finances, bathing, dressing, preparing meals, eating, shopping, transportation, etc. These chores should be divided among the family members to avoid fatigue on one person.

Often, although many relatives, friends, and neighbors would be willing led a hand, they may be short of ideas as to how well to provide this assistance; thus, the closest person should therefore not overburden himself but should let them know where he/she needs assistance.

Role strain

Care giving can create different emotional experiences to different people. Some families have positive experience towards care giving while to others, it is a very challenging role toward their daily lives. Role strain occurs when the caregiver or the recipient role is affecting him/her mentally, health wise or in his day-to-day life (zakaly, 2010). Below is some of the role strains associated with different areas in the family.

When taking care of the disabled, the caregiver may feel tired since there is no time it will ever end. The recipient may feel discriminated, for example, some family members feel embarrassed of having a disabled person in their homes. It results to the disabled being locked away from the public thus affecting their esteem and different from the rest of the people.

According to Factor and Weiner (2008), family care giving may be strained or adversely affected by the ethnic backgrounds of the caregiver and the recipient. In this case, the author provides that ethnic minorities are more likely to be strained due to lack of adequate resources and literacy compared to the whites.

Moreover, evidence shows that the minority ethnic groups, though inadequately endowed, are more receptive and motivated to provide care-giving services, more so due to their cultural beliefs and the psychological responsibility they feel that they have to fulfill (Factor and Weiner, 2008).

Taking care of the children may be rather challenging due to their irresponsible nature. Most parents are able to face these challenges due to pheleo love. When children are being taken care of by other people who are not their parents, there arises a lot of misunderstanding between them which may end up in different ways.

For example, a child may feel ill treated and run away from home, a step parent may mistreat a child since there is no blood relation between them, a guardian may feel disrespected thus withdraw from care giving, etc.

Role changes

Depending on a division of roles in a family, situations may arise that require role changes. For instance, when our parents get old and unproductive, the role of care giving may reverse to adult children.

This may result to role strain since most parents find it difficult to share responsibility with their children. In addition, some adult children may not be in a position to offer care to the family due to different reasons thus becoming a challenge to family care giving.

In most communities, some roles are entirely left to women. It is therefore a big challenge to many women since their male counterparts do not take it as their responsibility to offer family care.

Some of the recipient may not be willing to share anything concerning their situation especially the elderly and the mentally challenged. This poses a big problem since the caregiver has to work on assumption or may withdraw at one point.

Positive effects of care giving

Family care giving is a very satisfying role. For instance, when an adult child takes care of her aged parents, he/she feels good for appreciating the care his/her parents gave him/her when he was a child until when he/she could be able to take care of him/herself, as well as the education and everything that parents do for their children.

When spouses take care of each other, they feel satisfied for fulfilling their marriage vows. The spouses enjoy taking care of each other since it is a chance to grow closer, to be intimate, and to feel needed and appreciated. Moreover, many people find it satisfying since it fits with their spiritual, religious, personal values and the philosophy of life (Bearon, 2007).

Methods of Minimizing Role Strain

Sharing of the care giving roles among family members, friends, and neighbors can help in reducing the strain. In many cases, many people may be willing to offer help but they do not know how. It is therefore necessary to let other people know how you may need to be assisted in care giving.

Care giving may at times be stressful and full of challenges, overwhelming and may cause crisis at one point of the life of a care giver. When a person is having such a role, it is necessary to be sharing with people about it and if possible, have a counselor or a mentor. It is not advisable to keep quiet about the things you may be going through since it can end up into depression.

It is recommended that caregivers should take care of themselves in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, some people are often always engaged in caring for others to an extent that they normally forget that they as well need to be concerned about their own health. When taking care of sick people, it is important to always put protective gear to avoid infection.

Caregivers should be in a position to tap community resources. They should be informed about the ministry concerned, or any other organization offering help of their kind. Such resources include counseling, special days for the area of interest, subsidized services, in home services, special institutions, and respite services, etc.

Being optimistic and looking on how one can improve quality life by finding time to relax and taking part in hobbies are important. Never look down upon oneself or be dull for the type of care you may be offering but let your daily life be bright and jovial. Always have a positive attitude towards you’re the difficult situation since it can help to reduce stress.

If working, it is important for one to talk with his/her employer about what he/she is going through and let them know that one may need flexible working schedules at certain times.

It is also important to explain your care giving responsibility to your spouse and children in case where you are involved in an extended family affair. Let them understand you and possibly offer suggestions. Moreover, create a good environment with your recipient that he/she can freely share his needs with you. This will make it easier on the choice of the services you may put in place for your recipient.

Always seek medical attention for the person you are taking care of. This is because you may not be well informed and it is also necessary to offer quality care.

As much as shared decision-making is encouraged, the primary caregiver should be careful not to allow anyone to create unrealistic expectation on how care giving will take place. Moreover, “education or cognitive therapy directed towards coping skills can reduce strain and depression” (Factor and Weiner, 2008, p. 762).

Sourcing help from local organizations

Every situation that requires care giving mostly has a supporting body from outside. For example, there are many forums created by the government and the non-governmental organizations concerning children below a certain age mainly because children are vulnerable to many ailments and accidents.

Such forums makes it easier for the caregiver to raise young children at a lower cost and to help those who are not financially stable, as well as reducing the mortality rate of the children.

Concerning the disabled, there are many institutions put up to accommodate them. Most companies and organizations preserve specific vacancies for the mentally challenged. There are many homes all over the world for the elderly. The government has also come up with so many forums to assist the elderly such as relief food, education for the illiterate elderly among others.

Some of the outside resources for caregivers are access to information, flexible schedules for employees, paid leaves for employees, counselors, seminars for caregivers, caregiver manuals etc.


The research on role strain in family care giving brings out clearly a very broad image of care giving. It is evident that many families struggle with insufficient in-home or problematic out-of-home care (Adams, 2009). Overall, advancement in technology and busy schedules of the caregivers has led to the most of them adopting the latter option.

Indeed, the care giving, which was entirely a family chore has been directed to other institutions. For instance, there has cropped up homes for the elderly. However, the elderly lack the love of the family and feel neglected thus lead a miserably life to the end.

Nevertheless, these homes bridge the gap where the elderly would be left to struggle on their own. There are also institutions for the mentally handicapped, hospitals and baby-sitting homes where parents take their little kids when they are going to work.

Care giving is associated with many challenges and it is very demanding, consuming caregiver’s emotional and physical energy as well as time. They result in to depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, anxiety, financial hardships as well as deterioration in health of the caregiver.

Nevertheless, care giving may be strenuous but it has a positive impact on both the caregiver and the recipient. It is always satisfying to offer a leaning shoulder to someone no matter how small the problem may appear. It leaves a feeling of joy and peace to the caregiver knowing that you have touched a life somewhere.

The recipient also appreciates the care given to them since it would have been difficult if they were left on their own. It may be disappointing at times when the recipient does not seem to realize the effort being put on him/her.

To ease strain in care giving, support is a key thing. It may be emotional, spiritual, friendship, respite, and it works along way in relieving the caregiver from all kinds of care giving related stress.



Bearon, L. (2007) Adult Development/Aging Specialist The Burdens and Blessings of a family. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Care giving. Web.

Factor, S. and Weiner, W. (2008). P. Edition 2. NY, Demos Medical Publishing. Web.

Heath, A. (2010). North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services. Web.

Kovacs, P., Bellin, M. and Fauri, D. (2006). Family-Centered Care: A Resource for Social Working End-of-Life and Palliative Care. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care, Vol. 2(1). The Haworth Press, Inc. Web.

Zakaly, J. (2010). Role Strain in Care giving. Web.

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