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Maintaining or letting go of couplehood : Perspectives of older male spousal dementia caregivers

Maintaining or letting go of couplehood : Perspectives of older male spousal dementia caregivers


Title: Maintaining or letting go of couplehood : Perspectives of older male spousal dementia caregivers
Author: Stefánsdóttir, Olga Ásrún
Munkejord, Mai Camilla
Sveinbjarnardóttir, Eydís Kristín
Date: 2021
Language: English
Scope:
University/Institute: University of Akureyri
Department: Faculty of Nursing
Series: Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences; ()
ISSN: 0283-9318
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/scs.13035
Subject: Makar; Heilabilun; Umönnun; couplehood; dementia; grounded theory; older male spousal caregivers; phases; relationship; Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/2769

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Citation:

Stefánsdóttir , O Á , Munkejord , M C & Sveinbjarnardóttir , E K 2021 , ' Maintaining or letting go of couplehood : Perspectives of older male spousal dementia caregivers ' , Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences . https://doi.org/10.1111/scs.13035

Abstract:

Despite the negative implications for their own health, spouses continue to support each other and maintain their couplehood for as long as possible, including when one of them develops a severe illness. However, with some exceptions, the experiences of older male spousal caregivers have been largely overlooked, and our knowledge of the relational aspects of spousal dementia care is scarce. To respond to this knowledge gap, this article explores the following research questions: How do older male spousal caregivers of wives with dementia talk about changes in their couplehood? What transitions or phases in the relationship can be identified as the caring process evolves and the wife's health continues to deteriorate? To answer these questions, we analyse in-depth interviews with eight purposefully selected men aged 67–92 years old from Iceland and Norway. Our findings reveal that the participants felt that they were gradually losing their couplehood in the sense that they lost their shared everyday life routines, intimacy, joint activities, meaningful communication, and dreams and hopes for the future. Four phases of the dementia caring process were identified: the denial phase, the battle phase, the new reality phase and the redefinition phase. We hope that our findings spur more research on relational challenges as experienced by spouses caring for partners with cognitive decline. In conclusion, we argue that interdisciplinary clinical guidelines for a couple-centred approach in elder care should be developed to urge professional care providers to pay attention to the various changes and challenges that dementia couples undergo to meet not only the health and care needs of dementia patients but also those of their spouses.

Description:

No funding was obtained for this study. Primarily own research time financed by the University of Akureyri (Olga and Eydis) and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen (Mai). Funding for travel expenses related to fieldwork and analysis workshop: grant from the University of Akureyri and some funding from the project Ageing at home (grant number 257019, RFF Nord) Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic College of Caring Science

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