Family caregivers’ perspectives on their interaction and relationship with people living with dementia in a nursing home: a qualitative study

Charlotte T. M. van Corven*, Annemiek Bielderman, Peter L. B. J. Lucassen, Hilde Verbeek, Ivonne Lesman-Leegte, Marja F. I. A. Depla, Annerieke Stoop, Maud J. L. Graff, Debby L. Gerritsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Social interactions are important for people living with dementia in a nursing home. However, not much is known about interactions and relationships between residents and family caregivers and related experiences of family caregivers. We aim to advance the knowledge on how family caregivers interact with people living with dementia in a nursing home and how they maintain or redesign a meaningful connection. Methods: Qualitative research using interviews with family caregivers (n = 31) to explore perspectives on their interaction and relationship with the person living with dementia. Interviews were held during the reopening of nursing homes after the first COVID-19 lockdown in the Netherlands. In this situation, family caregivers became more aware of their interaction and relationship with the resident, which provided a unique opportunity to reflect on this. The interviews explored the interaction and relationship in a broad sense, not specifically for the COVID-19 situation. Thematic analysis was performed to analyze the data. Results: We were able to identify three key themes reflecting the experiences of family caregivers: (1) changes in the interaction and relationship, (2) strategies to promote connection, and (3) appreciation of the interaction and relationship. From the viewpoint of family caregivers, the interaction and relationship are important for both the resident living with dementia and for themselves, and family caregivers have different strategies for establishing a meaningful connection. Nevertheless, some appear to experience difficulties with constructing such a connection with the resident. Conclusions: Our results provide a basis for supporting family caregivers in perceiving and establishing mutuality and reciprocity so that they can experience togetherness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number212
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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