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Dementia (London). 2016 Nov 17. pii: 1471301216671418. [Epub ahead of print]

The experiences of family caregivers of people with advanced dementia living in nursing homes, with a specific focus on spouses: A narrative literature review.

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Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, UK
Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, UK.


Dementia affects individuals, families and their relationships. While there is increasing evidence about the experiences of family caregivers of people with dementia, relatively little is known of their experiences when their relatives are living in nursing homes with dementia. This narrative literature review aimed to synthesise current knowledge about family caregivers' experience of having relatives living in nursing homes with advanced dementia, particularly focussing on community-dwelling spouses. Using a systematic approach, textual narrative synthesis was undertaken. Four themes were identified: changing relationships, the need for companionship, adjusting to new roles and relationships and anticipating death/looking towards the future. Two additional themes were present only for spouses: changing identity - feeling married, being married; and alone but… The review demonstrates that some aspects of spouses' experiences are different from those of other family caregivers. Longitudinal studies are required to better understand spouses' motivations to continue caring in this context and to find ways of supporting them.


dementia caregiving; end of life; nursing homes; review; spouses


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