Scand J Caring Sci; 2010; 24; 116–124
The experience of being a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke – six months after discharge from a rehabilitation clinic
Being a close relative brings with it a large number of consequences, with the life situation changing over time. The aim of this study was to illuminate the experiences of being a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke 6 months after being discharged from a medical rehabilitation clinic. Narrative interviews were conducted with nine middle-aged close relatives and analysed using a content analysis with a latent approach. The analysis revealed that being close to someone who had suffered a stroke 6 months after discharge meant; a struggling for control and a renewal of family life in the shadow of suffering and hope. The middle-aged close relatives began to perceive the changed reality. They were struggling to take on something new, become reconciled and find a balance in their family life. Their ability to work, relief from caring concerns and having support and togetherness with others seemed to be essential for the close relatives in their efforts to manage their life situation and maintain their well-being. Having reached the ‘halfway point’ in their lives and still with half of their life in front of them created worries. They felt dejected about their changed relationships and roles, experience a sense of loss of shared child responsibilities, a negative impact on their marital relationships and sexual satisfaction. They felt trapped in a caring role and they worried about how to endure in the future. The middle-aged close relatives’ experiences were of being alone and neglected, in an arduous and complex life situation filled with loss and grief. The findings highlights that health professionals need to see and listen to the close relatives’ experiences of transition in order to provide appropriate support adjusted to their varying needs during a time of renewal.