Aging is an inevitable part of life. From our first breath to our last breath we are constantly growing older. It is an inescapable process of life that knows no boundaries such as race or gender; it happens to everyone and everything on earth. It is through aging that we mature and become wise in the ways of life. The way that one chooses to live life, and the opportunities that they take, influence the quality of their life in its later years.

Take for example Mrs. Chapman; she is an eighty year-old woman who lives across the street from my family. She is a very strong woman, in all senses of the word. Emotionally, she has been through, and still goes through a lot. Her late husband suffered from bowel cancer and passed away in 1974; leaving her to parent two children on her own. Ten years later she meet her current husband, and is now at the age of eighty, his sole caregiver. He is a difficult and miserable man whose outlook on life is, ? I?ll be glad when it?s over?. Mr. Chapman is her primary source of stress and he is probably the reason she has angina. He is 86 years old and has prostrate cancer, heart problems, a pace maker, a hearing aid, emphysema, and is on oxygen twenty-four hours a day. He is a stubborn man who refuses to relinquish his drinking, as a result of this he falls often. This is extremely hard on Mrs. Chapman because she hasn?t the strength to help him up on her own and often calls upon on neighbors to help her get him back on his feet. Mentally, she is still sharp. She is extremely alert and upbeat for her age. Her memory is great, and she?s a very knowledgeable woman with a lot to offer anyone that takes the time to get to know her. She is also very meticulous about her looks and her surroundings. Mrs. Chapman is 5? 4? and 140lbs. The amount of physical strength that she has is amazing. At her age she is still does all the gardening and lawn work; this includes navigating the wheel barrel full of dirt around the yard, and mowing the lawn. She is pretty social for the situation that she is in. Looking after a sick husband takes up most of her time, but when she has a spare moment she enjoys going to the legion and playing darts with her friends, attending the senior citizen group meetings, and playing cards. She can also be seen going to plays, musicals, entertaining her family when the opportunity presents its self. Her doctor told her to take any and every opportunity that she could to get away, and have a moment to herself. Gloria has a heart of gold and is willing to help friends, neighbors and family out when needed. All five of her children are there for moral support.

The article Elderly Spousal Caregivers: Knowledge of Cancer Care, Perceptions of Preparedness, and Coping Strategies, talks about the care of chronically ill, disabled and frail elderly individuals. These authors say, ? Families continue to function as the most important support system for the ill and the elderly. Care provided by family to disabled elderly or ill family members has been view as a ?non cost? system that is preferred by the family and care recipient?. The article goes on to say, ?If this is indeed to be a normative family function, then nurses must assess and plan interventions that meet the needs and match the coping strategies of family caregivers, as well as care recipients? (Rusinak and Murphy, 1995, p.34).

The research concluded the finding that family members experience stress when they provide complex levels of care to an impaired elder over an extended period of time (Rusinak and Murphy,1995, p.37). This is very true in the case of Mrs. Chapman, in fact her husband if the only major source of stress in her life right now. The family members also experience burden or burnout and health problems. Furthermore, it has been verified that those who report the greatest degree of negative outcomes are those who are providing in-home care to the elderly individuals. Some of the positive consequences of care giving have been identified as increased feeling of self-respect and gratification from