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Carers’ experiences of dementia support groups: A qualitative exploration

Dementia rates are growing (WHO, 2017) and as dementia is associated with a loss of independence, carers are required. Caring for a dementia patient places great demands on the carer’s resources (WHO, 2017). Previous research has indicated that whilst carers are at increased risk of poor mental and physical health (Diener & Chan, 2011; Mahoney, Regan, Katona, & Livingston, 2005; Mausbach, Patterson, Rabinowitz, Grant, & Schulz, 2007), there are some effective protective measures against these increased risks (Cooper et al., 2012; Elvish, Lever, Johnstone, Cawley, & Keady, 2013; Kaufman, Kosberg, Leeper, & Tang, 2010). Aims: This study aimed to evaluate a dementia support group, in relation to protective measures including social and emotional support, in a real-life rural setting from a carers’ perspective. Method: Fourteen informal carers of dementia patients were interviewed about their experiences of attending dementia support groups. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to thematic analysis. Findings: The analysis showed that attendance to the support group was associated with subjective well-being and that social support provided by the group was both stimulating and supportive for the carers. Participants valued the opportunity to share their experiences of being a carer with fellow group members and finding out about resources. Frequently, participants reported that the time period surrounding their loved one receiving a diagnosis of dementia was traumatic and they needed time to adjust to their new circumstances before attending a support group. Conclusions: Implications for wider employment of support groups as a format of support for carers are discussed.

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Journal article
John Wiley & Sons
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Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
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