The dynamics of continuity and discontinuity for women caring for a spouse with dementia

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This qualitative study explores spouse caregivers' understanding of and responses to partners with dementia. Six wives who had been providing care to their husbands in the community for at least two years were interviewed. Transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and four interconnected themes were proposed: same person or different; relational change; emotional responses to behaviours; and impact on day-to-day life. Participants' sense of continuity with the past was suggested to influence each theme. The construct of continuity was proposed to be elastic, with both intra-psychic and inter-psychic factors impacting upon its elasticity. Broadly, a sense of continuity seemed to be associated with better adjustment to caregiving.

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