Acknowledging dementia as an actor in the relationship: A facilitating mechanism promoting dementia family caregiver resilience

R. Amanda Cooper, Chris Segrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the incredible challenges of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, many dementia family caregivers exhibit resilience. Framed by the communication theory of resilience, this study examines how resilience processes unfold within dementia caregivers’ relationships with their family member, and dementia caregivers’ experiences of resilience. Analysis of 27 interviews with adult children and spousal caregivers revealed acknowledging dementia as an actor in the relationship as a central facilitating mechanism that enabled caregivers to enact other communicative resilience processes within their relationship. Resilience processes were enacted through shifting blame to dementia, accommodating dementia, and relying on memories. Caregivers experienced resilience through personal growth, enhanced relational closeness, and ambivalent resilience. We discuss implications for dementia caregiver resilience and forward facilitating mechanisms as an extension of communication resilience theorizing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s
  • ambivalence
  • caregiver
  • communication theory of resilience
  • dementia
  • family
  • personal growth
  • resilience processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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