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Public Policy and Administration


Mark Gordon


The UN General Special Assembly on HIV/AIDS reported that Thailand's elderly are living on the edge of poverty. Those who become caregivers for the children who have been orphaned by AIDS incur even greater challenges. The 2007 Survey of Older Persons of Thailand concluded that there is a range offinancial and social safety nets provided by the government, nongovernmental (NGO), and faith-based organizations (FBOs) to help the elderly caregivers and their families. The research literature offered limited studies on Thailand's elderly caring for these children. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the social, religious, and familial experiences of this population. The theoretical framework was Erikson's theory of the 8 ages of man. In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 elderly caregivers participating in the Grandma Cares Partnership Program. They were asked about their caregiving experiences, cultural and Buddhist beliefs, and programs that help them. Data were verified through member checking with a translator. The details of thecaregivers' experiences and environments were transcribed and analyzed with Creswell's 6-step process to identify textural and structural themes and patterns. Results of this study indicated that caregivers gained comfort and strength from Buddha's teachings, as well as from their cultural beliefs, to continue to maintain a home for these children, but they would like more support. Implications for social change include informing policy makers and leaders of the Thai government, NGOs, and FBOs that more financial and educational support is still needed to help these caregivers. Plans are in place for the caregivers to share their insights with their representatives, in order to make their lives more manageable.