Like a shadow – on becoming a stroke victim's relative

Authors

  • Catarina Wallengren RN Dipl Nurse Ed, BSc (Doctoral Student),

    1. School of Health and Sciences, University College of Borås, Borås, Sweden
    2. Faculty of Social and Life Science, Department of Nursing Sciences, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Febe Friberg RN Dipl Nurse Ed, PhD (Senior Lecturer),

    1. School of Health and Sciences, University College of Borås, Borås, Sweden
    2. Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Health Studies, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kerstin Segesten RN Dipl Nurse Ed, MScN, PhD (Professor)

    1. School of Health and Sciences, University College of Borås, Borås, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author

Catarina Wallengren, School of Health and Sciences, University College of Borås, Allégatan 1, SE-501 90 Borås, Sweden.
E-mail: catarina.wallengren@hb.se

Abstract

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and disability in the western world. Given the ageing population in Sweden, the number of people suffering from stroke is likely to increase in the future. Stroke alters the lives of both patients and their relatives. Few studies have explored first time affected relatives’ experiences of suddenly becoming a relative to a stroke victim, before the relatives decide whether or not to become informal carers. The aim of this study was to illuminate the meaning of going from being just a relative to gradually becoming a relative to a stroke victim from the time of the stroke event and the first weeks on. Sixteen relatives were interviewed about their experiences regarding what it was like to become a relative of a stroke victim from the time of the onset of the illness to the day of the interview. Using a phenomenological hermeneutic method, two essential main themes emerged to describe the relatives’ experience: (i) being in chaos and (ii) searching for order in chaos. The findings reveal that relatives reach a ‘turning point’. The ‘turning point’ arises when the relatives stay close to the stroke victim, get aware of their own strength and actively seek out caregivers to restore order and stability to the chaotic situation they are in. At the ‘turning point’, the relatives start their journey to restore order and stability of the chaotic life situation. Caregivers need to pay more attention and be more sensitive to relatives to increase their possibilities of restoring order and stability in their lives. The results contribute to facilitating the caregivers’ work by showing that the time is ripe for initiating pedagogical work when the relatives start to mobilise themselves.

Ancillary