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Life orientation in Finnish family caregivers' of persons with Alzheimer's disease: A diary study

Authors

  • Tarja Välimäki MNSc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
    • Finnish Doctoral Programme in Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
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  • Katri Vehviläinen-Julkunen PhD,

    1. Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
    2. Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
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  • Anna-Maija Pietilä PhD,

    1. Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
    2. Social and Health Care Services, Neuro Centre, Kuopio, Finland
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  • Anne Koivisto MD, PhD

    1. Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
    2. Department of Neurology, Neuro Centre, Kuopio, Finland
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Correspondence address: Tarja Välimäki, Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland. Email: tarja.valimaki@uef.fi

Abstract

Family caregivers provide the majority of home care of people with Alzheimer's disease. In this study, we discuss family caregivers' life orientation and changes in life orientation during the first year after the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Family caregivers' unstructured diaries (n = 83), of the first six months after diagnosis (years 2002–2004), were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Two core themes emerged from the data analysis: the meaning of the onset of Alzheimer's disease for the lives of family caregivers, and restructuring life in its entirety. Family caregivers face challenges in their life orientation after the onset of their family members' Alzheimer's disease. Their personal milieu, familial cohesion, and conception of the future consequentially change. They face multiple challenges in the process of becoming caregivers. In this study, it was revealed that the process starts before the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and has an impact on their future. We conclude that family caregivers' well-being should be assessed at the time of the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

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