"It should have been happening to me": The psychosocial issues older caregiving mothers experience

Victoria H. Raveis, Sheindy Pretter, Monique Carrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The occurrence of cancer is an event of significant importance to family functioning. The present analysis reports on an understudied group profoundly affected by this health event: older mothers caring for an adult child with cancer. As part of a study of breast cancer survivors and their family caregivers, a subsample (N = 13) of older caregiving mothers (mean age 68) participated in focused interviews. The interviews, conducted in English or Spanish, were audio-taped, transcribed, and subjected to content analysis. Analyses of the mothers' accounts elucidate complex psychosocial reactions to their adult daughters' cancer diagnosis that are informed by life-cycle considerations. These reactions, which include a reawakening of maternal behavior, a need to come to terms with the asynchronous nature of their daughters' health event, and an intense feeling of personal responsibility, illustrate the need for family-centered care in oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-148
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Adult daughters
  • Breast cancer
  • Caregiving
  • Family centered
  • Mother-daughter relationship
  • Parent caregiver
  • Personal vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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