Date of Conferral





Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


Despite the growing number of male caregivers, few researchers have examined social supports for caregiver sons of parents with dementia. The purpose of this qualitative interpretative phenomenological study was to contribute to the empirical literature on the social support of caregiver sons of aging parents with dementia. The research question centered on the lived experience of social support of caregiver sons of parents with dementia. The theoretical framework was the social role theory. The sample consisted of eight caregiver sons of parents with dementia. Participants were interviewed using semi-structured, researcher-developed questions. The results were generated from coding and thematizing processes, which yielded the following five themes: unprepared for caregiving, family and friends are the main social supports, the sons cannot do it by themselves, the sons do it for love, and lessons learned from being a caregiver son. This study provides a better understanding of difficulties experienced in caregiving roles, social supports accessed, coping strategies, reasons for becoming a caregiver, and lessons learned as caregivers. Policymakers and advocates may use study findings to refine existing tools, resources, and supports for son caregivers. Caregivers may benefit by learning about others’ caregiving, learning, and growing experiences and comparing those experiences to their own.