Janus at the Crossroads: Perspectives on Long-term Care Trajectories for Older Women With Dementia in a Canadian Context

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Abstract

Purpose of the Study:

Janus, the two-faced, Roman god of beginnings and transitions, is used as a metaphor to explore our personal narratives and our quantitative research on the experiences of older women with dementia in long-term care (LTC). Two research questions are addressed: (a) How do our quantitative data map onto our mothers’ experiences? (b) What lessons do our mothers’ experiences offer for the care of older women with dementia?

Design and Methods:

Informed by a life-course perspective, we triangulate administrative data on 3,717 women with dementia receiving LTC in British Columbia, Canada, with personal narratives—the stories of our mothers who made the transition from home care into residential (nursing home) care.

Results:

Our quantitative data reveal that the home care to residential care transition is the most common LTC trajectory for women with dementia who are most likely to be widowed and living alone in suburban areas. On entry into residential care, they exhibit greater frailty in terms of activities of daily living, cognition, aggression, and incontinence. Our personal narrative data on our mothers reveals that the relatively straightforward pathways through LTC for women with dementia, are often considerably more complex in a real-world context. Attention is drawn to the public and private services, hospitalization patterns, and substantial communication gaps experienced by our moms and families.

Implications:

A life-course perspective, and qualitative and quantitative data facilitate understanding the care journeys—health and service trajectories of older women with dementia.

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