Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Robert Stevenson

Committee Member

Gloria Kieley

Committee Member

Kimberly Durham


By 2030, the last of the baby boomer generation will reach the age of 65, which will expand the older adult population to more than 70 million in the United States. Based on the inflated numbers of the older adult population and the noted decreased birth rate in the younger population, fewer health-care providers will be available to teach, prepare, train, and assist caregivers in the ongoing care of their ill relatives.

The problem investigated in the study involved the present upsurge of the older adult population living longer and contributing to a shortage of health-care providers for older adults. Baby boomers account for 40% of active registered nurses entering into retirement. This qualitative study aimed to identify older adult caregivers’ lived experiences with debilitated chronically ill relatives in a rural southern county, as well as to explore the trend of elderly caring for the elderly and the possible unfortunate outcomes and challenges related to the reduction in health professionals for family caregiving.

The findings of this study indicated the lived experience of elderly caregivers for elderly patients is characterized by stress, resentment, and frustration. Caregiver participants spend the majority of their days providing care for others, with little time left for themselves. There is a sense of constantly feeling overwhelmed by circumstances but with no good alternative solution. Compounding this was the feeling that they had to take the verbal abuse and sometimes physical aggression that their husbands and brothers displayed toward them, which was how these men expressed their resentment and frustration. Receiving such aggression made participants resentful of their patients and frustrated with the patients and the circumstances of providing care.