Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

One Moment Prior: Mother-daughter Relationships at the Beginning of Frailty

Dana Prilutzky.

The goal of this study was to analyze mother-daughter relationships at a time of transition when mothers start to become frail and caregiving might be needed. Research on mother-daughter relationships in gerontology has often examined the caregiving phenomena and focused on various aspects such as negative/positive outcomes that caregivers and care receiver experience or gender differences in child's support to old parents. This study draws the focus one step backward to a point in time when older mothers are 'being at risk of dependency', and examines the dyadic intergenerational relationships of women, mothers and daughters, at a period that later leads to the caregiving experience.
The data for the present study was collected as part of a cross-national study on quality of life of elders and their family caregivers – the OASIS* project – conducted in four European countries - Norway, England, Germany, Spain - and Israel. The study combines quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection. This paper reports on the data of the Israeli qualitative phase where 10 dyads of parent-child were interviewed. The qualitative phase of the study had two primary goals: The first was to explore some of the issues raised in the
quantitative phase, like components of dependency and autonomy. The second, to explore the challenges emerging from frailty and its day-to-day management. The aim was to examine in detail how these difficulties are manifested and the coping strategies of the people concerned. The qualitative interviews were with a parent, who had already participated in the survey, aged 75 and over, defined as being "at risk of dependency", and with at least one living adult child. The definition of "at risk of dependency" was operationalized based on the ADL (SF36) scale.
Examination of the interviews revealed that although the general atmosphere was of love and care about each other, there were limited issues of mutual interest; much energy was invested in abstention (mothers) and preservation (both generations), and ambivalence was experienced by both sides. It looks as if mothers and daughters in the sample touched each other's lives through barriers of caution while treading softly on their tiptoes.


Dana Prilutzky  (Israel)
lecturer, doctoral student
department of gerontology, faculty of social welfare and health studies, university of Haifa, Israel
university of Haifa, Israel

  • mother-daughter relationships
  • Elders
  • Frailty

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)