Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Paul Gerber


The purpose of this study was to understand the decision making process of caregivers placing their elderly family members in a nursing home facility. Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) was used, as well as the Critical Incident Technique (CIT). ELT was utilized in an effort to understand the learning that took place during the caregiving experiences, and CIT was used to better understand the critical incidents that led the caregivers to seek nursing home placement. A sample of twelve former informal dementia caregivers between the ages of fifty-seven and eighty-seven was drawn from the metropolitan Richmond, Virginia area. In-depth interviews were audiotaped and provided the primary source of data for this study. An interview protocol consisting of eleven open-ended questions derived from current dementia caregiving literature guided the conversation between the researcher and the caregivers in the sample. A constant comparison method was used in this study. The findings revealed that there are a variety of reasons why informal dementia caregivers seek nursing home placement for their family members. Themes related to the decision making process to seek nursing home placement include (1) dementia related behaviors, (2) safety concerns, (3) emotional and psychological burden, and (4) unexpected medical intervention. Indicators of each theme found in this study suggest that providing informal care for an individual with dementia can be very overwhelming and challenging. Although there were some positive aspects associated with this form of caregiving, such as feelings of pride and self-worth, the overall consensus from this study was that dementia caregiving is a very difficult experience in which the primary caregiver had to ultimately seek formal placement in a nursing home for their family member for a variety of reasons.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

January 2011