Exploring the support needs of younger carers of those with Dementia: an MSc study

Zoe Cooke; Ceri Phelps

1University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Townhill Campus, Swansea, SA2 0UT; zoe.cooke@uwtsd.ac.uk

2 University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Townhill Campus, Swansea, SA2 0UT; ceri.phelps@uwtsd.ac.uk

5th May 2017

Abstract 

The impact of a diagnosis of Dementia for the individual and family members is being increasingly recognised, with family carers suffering adverse effects on their mental health and reporting poor quality of life (Millenaar et al., 2015).  Little research has been carried out exploring how younger family members cope with caring for a loved one with Dementia.  This study was carried out for an MSc dissertation for the MSc in Applied Social & Health Psychology at UWTSD Swansea and involved a qualitative exploration of the wellbeing and support needs of people under 65 who care for someone with Dementia.  One focus group and four in-depth telephone interviews were conducted and subjected to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith & Osborn, 2003). The analysis suggested the value of informal support was crucial for younger carers who regularly faced unique challenges, particularly when faced with accessing services.  Participants also struggled to reflect on the importance of their own wellbeing and the consequences of neglecting their own self-care. Overall the data provided suggest that sharing advice and experiences between each other is currently perceived as more valuable than professional support.  It also demonstrated that each journey through Dementia is very different and the support needs of individuals need to be tailored to their situation. A more personalised approach to support would be useful for future interventions targeted at offering support for the growing number of younger cares in the UK.