Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Feature Article 

Decision Making by Families of Older Adults with Advanced Cognitive Impairment: Spirituality and Meaning

Barbara A. Elliott, PhD; Charles E. Gessert, MD, MPH; Cynthia Peden-McAlpine, PhD, RN

Abstract

This qualitative study investigated the decision making of family members of institutionalized older adults with advanced cognitive impairment. Eight focus groups were conducted with 39 family caregivers at Minnesota nursing homes. Participants described their beliefs and values as central in their decision making; many said their spirituality provided guidance. Family members spontaneously described finding meaning in their decision-making roles. Many decision makers caring for their relatives with advanced cognitive impairment invoke their spirituality to guide relationships and decisions, creating meaning in the process.

Abstract

This qualitative study investigated the decision making of family members of institutionalized older adults with advanced cognitive impairment. Eight focus groups were conducted with 39 family caregivers at Minnesota nursing homes. Participants described their beliefs and values as central in their decision making; many said their spirituality provided guidance. Family members spontaneously described finding meaning in their decision-making roles. Many decision makers caring for their relatives with advanced cognitive impairment invoke their spirituality to guide relationships and decisions, creating meaning in the process.
Authors
Dr. Elliott is Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, Duluth, Dr. Gessert is Senior Research Scientist, SMDC Health System, Duluth, and Dr. Peden-McAlpine is Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (R03 AG21214-01) and the Duluth Clinic Education and Research Foundation.

Address correspondence to Barbara A. Elliott, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, Room 155, 1035 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812; e-mail: belliott@d.umn.edu.

10.3928/00989134-20070801-08

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