Introduction: Many people with dementia are enabled to live at home by the support of a close family member, who takes on the role of a carer. Considerable research has investigated the impact of caring for a person who has dementia. In early research, there was a tendency to overlook the experiences of the person with dementia and, in particular, the relationship between the two persons. This has now been corrected by a growing body of research on the relationships between people with dementia and the family members who care for them.
Method: Peer-reviewed publications on the influence of relationship factors in dementia caregiving were reviewed.
Results: The impact of dementia on the quality of relationships is examined, together with the impact of relationship quality on the experience of living with dementia. The different forms that relationships can take in the context of dementia are considered, and an integrative theoretical framework is proposed.
Discussion: A neglect of direct evidence from the person with dementia is identified, and possible ways of combating this are considered. Clinical implications are drawn with regard to supporting the carer, the person with dementia, and their relationship.