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Growing and gaining through caring for a loved one with dementia

Aim: To investigate the gains experienced by family caregivers of persons with dementia. Methods: Twelve respondents were recruited using purposive sampling from three institutions around Singapore. A qualitative design, guided by the grounded theory approach, was adopted and involved semi-structured, in-depth, face-to-face interviews. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using open, axial and selective coding. Results: All caregivers interviewed reported having gained from caregiving. The most common gain was that of 'personal growth' which comprised being more patient/understanding, becoming stronger/more resilient, having increased self-awareness and being more knowledgeable. Another theme that emerged was `gains in relationships' whereby caregivers experienced an improvement in their relationship with the care recipient, with others in the family or in their ability to interact with other older persons. The third gain experienced was that of `higher-level gains' which encompassed gains in spirituality, deepened relations with God, and a more enlightened perspective in life. Discussion: This research supports a shift from the conventional focus on burdens to a more holistic approach that considers how caregivers can grow and emerge stronger from the caregiving experience. This has implications in the design and delivery of services as utilizing these gains as a coping resource may enable better support for caregivers. It is pertinent that professionals supporting caregivers internalize the perspective of gains so that it becomes a natural way of seeing their clients and in the process help caregivers find meaning and enrichment in their caregiving journey.

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Dementia (14713012)

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