Y.ZHANG1, Q.YUAN1, E.SAMARI1, A.JEYAGURUNATHAN1, M. SUBRAMANIAM1
Institute of Mental Health1
Caregiving for people with dementia (PWD) is challenging. The stress and burden of caregiving are often associated with adverse psychological outcomes. Informal caregivers often develop their own coping strategies to manage the stress or the specific external and internal demands. The current study aims to adopt a qualitative approach to explore and identify informal caregivers’ emotional coping strategies during their care for PWD.
29 informal primary caregivers of PWD were recruited in Singapore using the snowball sampling method. All data were collected primarily from semi-structured in-depth interviews and were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
2 major themes and 5 sub-themes were identified: 1) Passive Coping: a) Avoidance (e.g., disassociate, deny or avoid dealing with the challenging situations); b) Tolerance (e.g., suppress their emotions and endure the challenges); c) Resignation (e.g., acknowledge the challenges but expect and accept negative consequences and lose hope); 2) Active Coping: a) Active acceptance (e.g., acknowledging the challenges, dealing with them and still finding meaning in life) b) Support Seeking (e.g., actively reaching out for emotional support from family and friends)
Distinguishing the different types of coping strategies is helpful for planning or structuring interventions for informal caregivers. Tailoring content for different coping strategies would help informal caregivers to understand their own emotions and behaviour better. Tailored interventions can also help them transform their passive coping strategies into active coping strategies and eventually achieve emotional balance and improve their quality of life.