“We moved her too soon”: Navigating guilt among adult child and spousal caregivers of persons living with dementia following a move into residential long-term care.

Tamara L Statz, Colleen M. Peterson, Robyn W Birkeland, Hayley McCarron, Jessica M. Finlay, Christina E. Rosebush, Zachary Baker, Joseph E. Gaugler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Guilt is a complex and multifaceted emotion navigated by many family caregivers (CG). Guilt is sometimes experienced following a transition into a residential long-term care (RLTC) facility, even when the move is necessary given high care needs related to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This mixed-methods study identifies and compares areas of guilt most frequently experienced by spouse and adult child caregivers (N = 83) of a family member with dementia following transition into RLTC. Nearly half of caregivers reported experiencing guilt from their care recipient (CR), other family members, or facility staff. Quantitative analyses explored variables that predict heightened feelings of guilt, and qualitative thematic analyses provided rich insight into subjective experiences of guilt. Person-specific and situational characteristics influenced caregiver guilt, including level of involvement in care, frequency and quality of visits, and perceptions of the RLTC facility. We identify specific opportunities for tailored couple and family psychology interventions, including communication strategies, decision-making approaches, focusing on positives, psychoeducation, self-forgiveness exercises, stress management and self-care activities, and validation. The current work informs how counseling interventions can provide practical support by highlighting specific clinical mechanisms that help to alleviate common facets of caregiver guilt following a transition into RLTC. Critically, we distinguish variation between spouses and adult children to design treatment plans that best support clients who are caring for a person living with dementia in RLTC. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCouple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias
  • adult child
  • caregiving
  • guilt
  • spouse

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