Young adults' experiences of their parents caring for a relative with dementia

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Abstract

Aim:

The aim of the present study was to explore the experiences and perceptions young adults had of family members who are caring for a relative with dementia.

Methods:

An exploratory qualitative study with semi-structured interviews was carried out and data were collected from 24 young adults recruited through purposive sampling. The participants had to have a close relative who was caring for an elderly family member with dementia. A content analysis approach was used for the verbatim transcription.

Results:

The findings showed that caring for a relative with dementia was perceived as a time-consuming, exhausting and long-term task. The participants experienced stress and strain, although they were not the primary caregivers. Despite their negative perceptions of the task, they were willing to take on the responsibility of becoming a primary caregiver in the future. However, they intended to seek assistance in meeting their caregiving roles and responsibilities. Seeing how their close relative cared for a dependent older adult led them to reflect on what they would become in the future. Interestingly, although the participants expected their future offspring to take care of them when they became old, they did not want to be a burden to their children.

Conclusion:

Young adults are the caregivers of tomorrow. Knowing their perspective on caregiving is important if health professionals are to help them evolve into a caregiving role. It has implications for realizing the goal of aging in place. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2016; 16: 873–879.

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