W.A.M.HENG1, E.Y.CHAN1, Y.X.P.LIN1, W.L.CHUA1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1
In Asian societies, the responsibility of caring for persons with dementia falls upon a family member. Oftentimes, care recipients started displaying changes that require assistance from their family members. However, little attention has been paid to this “fledging” stage of caregiving, and their transition into a “formal” family caregiver. Thus, this study aims to explore the experiences of Asian family caregivers during the early stage of caregiving for a family member with newly diagnosed dementia.
A qualitative descriptive study involving a purposive sample of 11 main family caregivers of a person with newly diagnosed dementia was recruited from a memory clinic within a tertiary hospital in Singapore. Individual, face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed.
“Suspicions to seeking confirmation of dementia” illustrates the suspicions caregivers had leading them to seek formal medical attention. “Grappling with dementia diagnosis” narrates the caregivers’ experiences of receiving the formal diagnosis and as they confront the new reality of having a family member with dementia. “Making adjustments for the future” describes the various caregiving challenges that caregivers face had adjusting to the caregiving role and the lack of future care plans.
This study identified several areas of need during the early caregiving journey of family members with dementia. Findings suggest the need for organizations to prepare family caregivers for the challenges ahead of them. Unique to the Asian culture, our findings put forth the advocacy of engaging persons with dementia in their long-term care plan and options.