Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Zvi Gellis

Abstract

Bridging the Gap Between Adult Children and Their Aging Parents: Developing and Assessing a Life Review Education Program

Abstract

Background: The parent-child relationship is one of the most influential and integral relationships in the life of both members of the dyad. Studies show that the parent-child relationship continues to maintain a place of great importance throughout the life course. In the steadily aging population of the United States, the value of the parent-child relationship is often minimized or overlooked by shifting the focus from a role of parent/child to patient/caregiver. Purpose: The purpose of this mixed-methods exploratory study was to design and implement a Life Review Education (LRE) intervention to: (a) increase understanding; and, (b) facilitate communication within the aging adult/adult child dyad, thereby generating knowledge on the emotional and psychological aspect of the relationship. Methods: The study used a pre-post test design. Ten adult children of aging parents participated in “Bridging the Gap,” a pilot psychoeducational group that implemented Life Review Education through a structured, 75-minute, manualized intervention. The intervention group took place in a physical therapy center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Measures: The study assessed subjects’ understanding of life review using the Life Review Understanding Questionnaire (L-RUQ) and the impact of life review education on their communication via the Family Problem Solving Communication Scale (FPSC). The study employed qualitative interviews to gain a more in-depth understanding of the program’s effect on participants. Results: Findings supported the positive impact of the intervention on the adult child’s understanding of life review as well as the positive benefits of a psychoeducational group format. Scores on the FSPC scale did not indicate a statistically significant change in communication within the dyad. The impact of this program on family communication is in need of further examination. Conclusion: This exploratory study serves to integrate the concepts of life review, aging adult/adult child dyads, and psychoeducation and lays the groundwork for future exploration and implementation of life review education.

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