The purpose of this study was to clarify the concept of death preparedness for family caregivers in dementia. Conceptualization was required to support the assessment, promotion, and operationalization (ie, measurement) of death preparedness through palliative care interventions such as advance care planning.
Rodgers evolutionary method of concept analysis was selected to guide this study because of the dynamic nature of death preparedness influenced by context, setting, and time. A comprehensive literature search was conducted. Authors performed constant comparative analysis to identify and interpret surrogate/related concepts, attributes, antecedents, and consequences of death preparedness.
Most importantly attributes included (1) knowing and recognizing the symptoms of decline in dementia and what dying looks like; (2) understanding emotions and grief responses; (3) accessing and appraising supports needed to manage and care for dying; (4) organizing affairs and completing tasks in advance; (5) accepting that losses are inevitable and imminent; (6) reflecting on caregiving and finding meaning, “a silver-lining”; and (7) closing, reconciling, and renewing relationship bonds and completing the family member’s life.
This study contributed a full definition of death preparedness in dementia. Findings aligned with/expanded upon Hebert et al Theoretical Framework of Preparedness for End-of-Life. The use of problem- and emotion-based coping strategies by caregivers with support from health-care providers to promote feelings of death preparedness (including self-efficacy and control) and minimize uncertainty was the implication of this study. Development of a holistic preparedness instrument is underway.