Date of Conferral







Lee Stadtlander


Despite plentiful research on the physical, psychological, and emotional demands on adult child caregivers, there are few studies that highlight developmental issues in the adult child/dependent parent dyad. This study was designed to highlight the dependency factor in this dyad, thus addressing the gap in the literature. With family systems theory, attachment theory, and role conceptualizations constituting the bases for the study, research questions addressed how adult child caregivers experience parental dependency and how dependency affects the caregiving/care-receiving dynamic. Ten volunteer participants were interviewed, and the results were analyzed using a variation of the van Kaam method of data analysis in which themes emerged from qualitative phenomenological data. Results of this study revealed 6 main themes; in descending order of the number of participants endorsing each, the themes were as follows: caregivers did not receive enough help from family/friends (n = 10), caregiving evolved on its own (n = 8), expectations changed (n = 8), roles changed (n = 8), dementia caused changes (n = 7), and new relationship provided benefits (n = 5). The first 2 themes indicated the ways in which adult child caregivers experience parental dependency. The remaining 4 themes illuminated participant-reported changes following the addition of dependency to the adult child/parent dynamic. Findings from this study can influence social change by promoting appropriate support interventions that support the physical and mental health of the caregiver population.