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Chinese women's perspectives on the transitional process of caring for spouses with dementia from home to institution Choi, Alice Kit Ming

Abstract

This study describes the caregiving experience of elderly Chinese wives while caring for their spouses with dementia at home and in an institution. Conflict arises between health care workers and family caregivers because of a different perception about role expectations. A good understanding of how the Chinese wives conceptualize their caregiving role and assign meanings to the caregiving relationship in different contexts will enable the nurses to engage ineffective care planning for the Chinese patients with dementia. Phenomenology was the research design chosen for this study because of its unique focus on revealing the participant's perception about a particular situation or experience. Data were collected through ten interviews with six Chinese women between the ages of 70 - 82 years. These women had cared for their spouses with dementia at home from one and one-half to three and one-half years before their spouses' admission to a care home. A reflective data analysis process resulted in a consistent description of the cargiving [sic] experience of the Chinese wives. An emotional experience, a sense of conflict, of the Chinese wives throughout the caregiving process, was identified as the predominant theme. The major conclusions from the findings of this study are: (1) the Chinese women perceived their caregiving role and ascribed meanings to the caregiving process quite differently from that reported in the literature, (2) the context in which caregiving is embedded has to be critically examined in order to understand how caregivers conceptualise their caregiving role. The ascribed meanings to caregiving and its significance to the caregiving relationship have to be explored as they influence role conceptualization, and (3) the Chinese culture and the traditional values held by the Chinese women were major forces in creating the situations of conflict.

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