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Dementia care-giving from a family network perspective in Germany: A typology

Sustaining informal care-giving for people living with dementia (PWD) is a common objective of societies worldwide. Families can contribute substantially to the support of care-giving relatives. However, a deeper understanding of the impact of informal care-giving for PWD on family life is needed. Interviewing of multiple family network members-in addition to the primary carer-provides more insight into familial contexts of care-giving. This pilot study aims to explore how informal carers reconcile dementia care-giving and family life from a family network perspective. Therefore, we conducted 14 narrative interviews with family carers from seven care-giving networks in Germany, which we interpreted using the documentary method. The yielded relational typology describes five types of family carers of PWD. These types reflect the way the families deal with dementia care-giving based on the interrelation between relationship quality and the distribution of care-giving tasks within the family. Depending on the constellation of this interrelationship, family carers either experience care as a joint project, as co-operation with external support or within the family, as disappointment or as a predicament without alternatives. Finally, if the care-giving tasks are not shared, or if the distribution is perceived as unequal, relationship break downs can occur, especially in family ties that are already strained. However, joint care-giving and strong ties can also bring the family closer together and enhance care experiences. Care professionals and social workers should be aware of the family network of dementia carers and support the development of a sense of family unity. This can contribute to positive care experiences among family carers and thus increase the maintenance of informal dementia care. 

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
John Wiley & Sons
Publication Year
Journal Titles
Health & social care in the community
Volume Number
Online early view