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Occupational changes in caregivers for spouses with stroke and aphasia

Introduction: Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide. While health services focus on the needs of diagnosed persons, families provide extensive informal care with diverse effects on daily life and health. Understanding caregivers' experience is critical to support their health and sustained contributions. This exploratory study examined how caring for partners with stroke and aphasia impacts caregivers' activities, identifying possible differences according to race/ethnicity through the lens of occupation.

Method: Mixed methods identified the occupational impact of caring for a partner with stroke and aphasia. Twelve participants completed the Carer Communication Outcome After Stroke, Occupational Gaps Questionnaire, Activity Card Sort, and a semi-structured interview.

Findings: The impact of aphasia on caregivers varied greatly. The Occupational Gaps Questionnaire revealed gaps in cultural activities. On the Activity Card Sort, caregivers experienced occupational loss, primarily in low-demand leisure and social activities. Six themes emerged from the interviews: personal factors, finding new equilibrium, participation barriers, compensations for aphasia, uncertainty, and obligations. Trends differed somewhat by race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: Findings have implications for health professionals working with individuals with stroke and aphasia. The caregivers' experience deserves attention to support their quality of life and wellbeing, which can promote sustained assistance for their relatives with stroke.

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British Journal of Occupational Therapy

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