Responding the "wrong Way": The Emotion Work of Caring for a Family Member with Dementia
Background and Objectives Although it is generally acknowledged that the changing behaviors of some people living with dementia can be emotionally exhausting for family members, there has been little research on how carers actually interpret and manage their emotional responses when interacting with persons with dementia in context and over time. Applying the concept of emotion work, this analysis examines when and where carers feel they are responding "the right way" to their kin and when and where they resist normative emotions around family care. Research Design and Methods Semi-structured qualitative interviews (N = 20) and diaries (N = 11) were conducted with, and collected from, family carers in Manitoba, Canada to explore how they negotiate their emotions and emotional displays when caring for a family member whose behaviors are changing. Results Carers expressed feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment and identified putting on a positive attitude, putting the person with dementia first, protecting the person with dementia, and avoiding conflict and arguing as the "right way" to respond to these feelings. They identified challenges responding the "right way," however, in relation to household chores, and situations that also involved isolation, fear, verbal aggression, and fatigue. Discussion and Implications Programs and policies must recognize the complex emotion work of family carers. There is a need for more nuanced education materials, support with household tasks, inclusion of carers' emotional needs in transition planning, and support for carers to exit the caring role when necessary.
|Keywords||Caregiving - Informal, Feeling/display rules, Qualitative research methods|
Herron, R.V. (Rachel V), Funk, L.M. (Laura M), & Spencer, D. (2019). Responding the "wrong Way": The Emotion Work of Caring for a Family Member with Dementia. Gerontologist, 59(5), e470–e478. doi:10.1093/geront/gnz047