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Clarann Weinert
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Caring for Native American Elders: Prairie

Overview

Elder abuse is a problem of concern among Native American communities. This project represents a phase of a larger research program to design, implement, and evaluate models for family conferences for Native American elders at risk of abuse because chronic and debilitating illnesses have forced them to become dependent on younger family members. At the time this project began, work had been conducted exclusively with one Tribal community in the Northwest. With the goal of targeting more than one Tribal community for the larger project, additional pilot data to determine the feasibility of conducting the Family Care Conference intervention with other Native American Tribes/Nations were needed. The purpose of this study was to gather background and contextual data from one additional Northwestern Tribal community to expand the foundation from which to design a larger scale proposal.

Thematic and matrix analyses were used to address the specific aims of this project: a) to delineate a representational model of elder abuse, b) to explore the practices of addressing elder abuse on the reservation, c) to elicit opinions from service providers and lay people about the feasibility of implementing a family conference intervention, and d) to describe those community strengths that may be used in the implementation and sustainability of the family conference intervention.

Employing a descriptive, exploratory design, data were collected from multiple sources including guided interviews (individual and group), observation (direct and participant), and documents that were found in the public domain.

This project represented a component of a larger program of research that began with a two-phased project to develop, pilot, and assess the feasibility of an intervention, the Family Care Conference, for Native American elders on one reservation in the Northwest, who were at risk of elder mistreatment. Subsequently the project was expanded, via the R21 mechanism, to develop a Family Care Conference initiative on that same reservation. The information learned from these initial studies and this project, have formed a basis on which to build a larger intervention project to implement and test the Family Care Conference intervention.




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