Approximately 66 million people worldwide will suffer from dementia in 2030. The dementia’s
impact affects people with the disorder and those in their social networks, most notably, their
families. This study’s aim was to explore the experiences of family relationships when a family
member has dementia. We conducted semi-structured interviews with people diagnosed with
dementia, their spouses and adult children. Seventeen participants were interviewed. All participants
were recruited in open-ended ongoing structured support groups provided by a Swedish
municipality in order to elicit the participants’ subjective experiences on family relationships after
the dementia diagnosis. Researchers used content analysis to examine the transcripts. Two
main themes were identified, one relating to changed relationships where the participants experienced
longing, lost closeness, loneliness and changed sibling relationships. The second theme
related to supporting relationships within the family with experiences such as kinship, shared responsibilities
and love and appreciation. Support should therefore focus on creating relationships
and giving opportunities for conversations about changes within the families and difficult decisions,
creating family or team support for those who need it.
Scientific Research Publishing, 2014. Vol. 4, 520-527 p.