Increasingly, families are being called to provide care to their elderly family members. Nursing has an important role to play in enabling families to assume such responsibilities. In this article, however, it is argued that nursing needs to examine its goals for nursing care and approaches to care delivery in their broader social, political, and economic context. Marxist theory is introduced and used to raise questions about taken-for-granted aspects of nursing practice and trends in health policy as they relate to family carers for the elderly. The article specifically examines assumptions about family, women, and household economies that are inherent in traditional nursing theory. It is argued that nursing needs to move its focus of action beyond work at the individual and family level to include work at system and policy levels. To do so, nursing must examine theoretical perspectives that enable such an inquiry into practice.
© 1993 Aspen Publishers, Inc.