You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dementia families: Relinquishing home care to aged care services: Guilt, traumatic loss and growth

Dementia families: Relinquishing home care to aged care services: Guilt, traumatic loss and growth

Background and Objectives: Few studies explore both negative and positive perspectives of family members who relinquish home care of a family member with dementia for systemic aged care. Research Design and Methods: This phenomenological study sought the 'lived' experience of relinquishing the role of home carer for a family member with mild to severe dementia to others within care home settings, by seeking to understand the impact of aged care on family members' psychological well-being. Using semi-structured interviews, positive and negative subjective interpretations from 17 families (27 individuals) provided data for analysis, following the protocols of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: One superordinate theme, mistrust/integrity, overarched oscillation between mistrust of the aged care system and a struggle for personal integrity in caring for these participants. Two sub-themes emerged: intrinsic trauma and extrinsic trauma. Intrinsic trauma explained feelings of helplessness and guilt, and internally directed responses that triggered a retreat into submission ultimately reducing the participant's role in advocacy. Extrinsic trauma represented externally directed responses such as anger and frustration, where family members became more engaged and watchful and recognised a need for vigilance and advocacy. Paradoxically oscillating between these personal struggles, participants exhibited growth, a third theme that defined assertive/advocacy utilised to nurture hope, gratitude, courage and change. Discussion and Implications: Family members experienced complex distress as they relinquished home care to others within systemic aged care for a member with dementia. By developing adaptive responses as appropriate, for example, advocating for their family member or accepting compliance with treatment, collaborative care between family and staff created better outcomes for the family member with dementia.

Access source material through DOI
Original source (some source materials require subscription or permission to access)

Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Volume Number
Start Page
End Page