The experiences of Taiwanese women caring for parents-in-law
Using grounded theory, semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted to explore the experiences of Taiwanese women who were caregivers for their parents-in-law. Thirty-one Taiwanese women aged 23–58 participated in this study. ‘Just doing’ emerged as the core category and reflected the Taiwanese women caregivers’ process of striving to continue to fulfil the demands of their role during the period of commitment to their parents-in-law’s care. The related categories surrounding the core category in the paradigm for this study include: being called, caring for, holding up, keeping harmony, and maintaining filial piety. ‘Being called’ reflected the reasons that these women became caregivers to their parents-in-law under circumstances heavily influenced by cultural expectations. ‘Caring for’ provided the context for activities involved in providing daily comfort, keeping watch and seeking assistance when necessary. The category of ‘holding up’ reflected the caregiver’s interpretation of her duty, the extent of the difficulties she experienced and her responses to those difficulties. A philosophy of life, which strongly emphasizes ‘keeping harmony’ influenced how the caregiver interpreted her caregiving role and her ability to ask for assistance or more resources to overcome difficulties posed by the situation. Maintaining filial piety was identified as a primary duty, a lifelong commitment and a desired outcome. However, striving to achieve this outcome resulted in differing caregiver perceptions, ranging from serenity to personal self-sacrifice. The findings clearly suggested that caregiving behaviours were influenced by cultural expectations when the parent-in-law was ill. This study of Taiwanese women caregivers’ experiences may be beneficial in facilitating the development of a comprehensive policy for long-term care as well as suggesting possible intervention strategies for individual and family care. Recommendations for future research focus on cultural determinants of caregiving roles and coping strategies.