I had the chance to present some of my research at the Canadian Association on Gerontology’s annual Scientific Meeting. I’ve been attending this conference for 4+ years, and truly value the connections I’ve made through this organization. It’s so nice to see familiar faces year after year, and recognize all that my peers have accomplished! I was also excited because the conference took place in Niagara Falls Ontario – and enabled me to have a nice visit with my Dad & Cindy (’cause it’s been far too long since I’ve seen them!) and a close friend from University.
If you’re interested in reading my abstract – I’ve included it below the pics. Those fall colours, though, were beautiful! much love.
ABSTRACT: Meaningful activity differences in spouse compared with adult-children dementia caregivers
Caregivers’ social-identity is tied to that of the care-recipient, and may be undermined in dementia. As such, engaging in meaningful activities may help both caregivers and persons with dementia. This study explores meaningful activity defined by spouse and adult-child dementia caregivers.
A larger research program recruited caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular, frontotemporal, and Lewy Body variants taking cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEI). Caregivers provided minimum 3hours of care over 3 days/week. In-person interviews were completed 6-months after ChEI onset. This study compared spousal (n=640) and adult-children (n=265) responses to the open-ended question “What do you believe getting involved in activities outside the home means for someone with dementia?”. The answers were transcribed and phenomenological thematic content analysis was completed.
Spouse caregivers identified meaningful activities as beneficial to the couple, including: social engagements as a couple, broadening both persons lifestyle, maintaining interrelationships with others, and sense of social normalcy. Spouse caregivers related activity participation to self-worth. Spouses provided care in earlier stages, where care-recipients may be more aware of dementia symptoms. Increased social anxiety, frustration and embarrassment in public were reported.
Adult-children caregivers identified meaningful activities as interaction with peers. For adult-children, meaningful activities included opportunities for parents to relate to their peers, companionship, and independence. Adult-children provided care in later stages, where participation in activities alleviated reliance on the caregiver and enabled personal-time and breaks from care duties.
Caregivers’ views on meaningful activity differed depending on their relationship. This new knowledge may indicate areas for improved activity provision and support.