As part of the IDEAL study (Improving the Experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life)1, Dr Catherine Quinn has been looking at the influence of both positive and negative experiences on carers’ well-being and satisfaction with life. This work has been recently published online in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and awarded the Publication of the Month prize – a University of Bradford recognition for high quality outputs accepted for publication.
There has been a lot of research on the negative experiences in providing care to a person with dementia, carers have described experiencing care-related stress or feeling trapped in their role as a carer. However, less attention has been paid to carers’ positive experiences in providing care, such as experiences of personal growth or a strengthening of their relationship with the person with dementia. In this study, using data from the IDEAL cohort study, we explored how these positive and negative experiences of caring influenced carers’ well-being and satisfaction with life.
We found that care-related stress and perceptions of positive aspects of caring were associated with carer well-being and satisfaction with life. Carers who experienced low levels of care-related stress and identified higher positive aspects of caring had higher well-being and satisfaction with life.
The findings show that both carers’ positive and negative experiences of caring are important for their well-being and satisfaction with life. This helps us to understand the types of support that carers may find helpful. In particular, we need to recognise that caring can involve both positive and negative experiences and healthcare professionals and others involved in supporting carers should ask them about these experiences.
It is vital that carers are supported to reduce stress levels and to increase positive feelings about caring. The development of interventions that aim to simultaneously increase appraisals of positive aspects of caring and decrease appraisals of negative aspects of caring may be the most beneficial for caregiver well-being and satisfaction with life.
To access the full article: Quinn, C., Nelis, S. M., Martyr, A., Victor, C., Morris, R. G., Clare, L., & on behalf of the IDEAL study team. (2019). Influence of positive and negative dimensions of dementia caregiving on caregiver well-being and satisfaction with life: Findings from the IDEAL study. American Journal of Geriatric https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2019.02.005
1 IDEAL is the largest study of living well with dementia in the UK. Read more at: http://www.idealproject.org.uk/
Written by Dr Catherine Quinn