Caregivers of older adults with dementia and multiple chronic conditions: Exploring their experiences with significant changes Academic Article uri icon

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  • Family caregiving is considered a social transition as changes in the health of the care recipient create a process of transition for the caregiver when they are more vulnerable to threats to their own health. Family and friend caregivers take on many responsibilities and experience high levels of burden when caring for community-dwelling older adults living with dementia and multiple chronic conditions. However, little is known about the changes they experience in their caring roles or how they cope with these changes. This qualitative descriptive study was part of a larger mixed methods randomized controlled trial evaluating a web-based caregiver support toolkit. Multiple semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with caregivers of older adults with dementia and multiple chronic conditions. Content analysis was used to generate thematic descriptions. Six themes were generated and grouped into two categories. Significant changes experienced by caregivers are described by the following themes: 'everything falls on you - all of the responsibilities,' 'too many feelings' and 'no time for me.' The themes describing how caregivers coped with these changes include: seeking support, self-caring, and adapting their caregiving approach. Study results indicate that caregivers of older adults with dementia and multiple chronic conditions experienced many changes in their caregiving journey resulting in increasing complexity as they tended to the care recipients' declining health and well-being. These caregivers used several creative strategies to cope with these changes. Health care providers should consider both the caregiver and care recipient as clients in the circle of care, and facilitate their linkage with health and community support services to help address the increasing complexity of care needs.


  • Ploeg, Jenny
  • Northwood, Melissa
  • Duggleby, Wendy
  • McAiney, Carrie A
  • Chambers, Tracey
  • Peacock, Shelley
  • Fisher, Kathryn
  • Ghosh, Sunita
  • Markle-Reid, Maureen
  • Swindle, Jennifer
  • Williams, Allison
  • Triscott, Jean AC

publication date

  • March 6, 2019