Experiences and challenges of informal caregiving for Korean immigrants

Authors


H-R Han: e-mail: hhan@son.jhmi.edu

Abstract

Title. Experiences and challenges of informal caregiving for Korean immigrants.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study designed to explore the caregiving experiences of Korean Americans.

Background.  Increasing numbers of older people in the Asian population place important long-term care demands on Asian caregivers, yet minimal attention has been given to the issue of caregiving in this group. The current study attempts to fill the gap by describing Korean American caregivers’ unique caregiving experiences from their perspectives.

Method.  A qualitative research design using a focus group approach was employed to discuss caregiving experiences in a cultural context. Data were collected over an 8-month period in 2005. Twenty-four informants, mostly women, at varying points surrounding caregiving participated in a focus group interview. Each focus group lasted about 1 ½–2 hours. Thematic analysis was conducted by two bilingual researchers.

Findings.  Three key themes were identified: the caregiver role – competing priorities and beliefs, the extent and impact of caregiving, and the need for education and culturally-tailored support systems. Ten subthemes were identified within the three major themes: (1) facing double challenges; (2) changing attitudes about filial piety (Hyo); (3) providing care; (4) feeling out of control; (5) going through changing family dynamics; (6) being connected vs. providing connection; (7) paying back; (8) learning by themselves; (9) recognizing differences and (10) reconsidering geriatric care systems.

Conclusion.  The caregiving experiences described by Korean American families point to the need to identify and develop more focused outreach programmes as well as more culturally appropriate support services for this rapidly increasing population.

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