Caring to achieve the maximum independence possible: a synthesis of
qualitative evidence on older adults' adaptation to dependency
Eva Abad-Corpa, Teresa Gonzalez-Gil, Antonio Martı´nez-Herna´ndez, Ana M Barderas-Manchado,
Carmen De la Cuesta-Benjumea, Olga Monistrol-Ruano, Vinita Mahtani-Chugani and RETICEF-
Aims and objectives. To understand the process of adaptation to dependency in older adults and their families.
Background. Dependency and family care giving are attracting the attention of policymakers, service providers and researchers.
Design. An interpretative synthesis of qualitative studies has been conducted.
Methods. An extensive search without time and idiom limitations was conducted using the main databases (MEDLINE,
CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, SSCI, LILACS, CUIDEN, Cochrane Library and JBI): personal communication from expert
panel was used to detect filters strategies to find qualitative studies; these strategies were combined with search terms for
dependence in older adults. The studies (2164 potentially relevant papers) were judged by two reviewers based on reading title,
abstract, keywords and/or full text (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese) to determine their inclusion. After, 203 papers
were critically appraised by two reviewers (disagreements were resolved by discussions). Finally, the synthesis of the 20 studies
with best interpretative character was carried out based on the principles and procedures of Grounded Theory.
Results. The findings were related to the process of adaptation to dependency, the factors and the strategies used, the emotions,
perceptions and feelings of care givers and older adults. The central category that emerged was 'Caring to achieve the maximum
independence possible', and this could be seen as a transition period in which older adults and their families progressed in a
mutually determined adaptation process. This category is made up of several redefinitions of concepts, phases, adaptation
strategies and final responses to the process.
Conclusions. The findings show the interconnected nature of physical, material, social and emotional aspects of care; and the
profound social impact of providing and receiving care.
Relevance to clinical practice. The nurses can assist families and older adults to enhance adaptation to dependency, anticipating
and helping to redefine the concepts of care.
Key words: adaptation, aged, caregiver, dependency, geriatric, older adults, qualitative research, synthesis research
Accepted for publication: 8 April 2012
Authors: Eva Abad-Corpa, MSc, RN, PhD, Research Associate,
Research Department, Murcia Health Service, Murcia and Carlos III
Health Institute, Nursing and Healthcare Research Unit (Investen-
isciii), Madrid; Teresa Gonzalez-Gil, MSc, PhD, RN, Lecturer,
Nursing Department, Health Science Faculty, Rey Juan Carlos
University, Alcorco´n, Madrid; Antonio Martı´nez-Herna´ndez, MSc,...