Couples' experiences with early-onset dementia: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of dyadic dynamics

Dementia (London). 2016 Sep;15(5):1082-99. doi: 10.1177/1471301214554720. Epub 2014 Oct 9.


Objective: The growing interest in early-onset dementia has attracted attention to the situation and experiences of the caregiver, most often the spouse. Several qualitative studies on caregiving spouses have underlined the importance of the feeling of loss, the change of role reported by the caregiving spouses, and the strategies used to protect the person with dementia, all of which raise the question of the relational dynamics at play in these dyads. The present study on 16 couples examines the experiences of each partner, as well as the kinds of interactions taking place within the dyad and how they have evolved since the disease began.

Design: An interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted on dyadic semi-structured interviews.

Results: Seven axes emerged from the analyses, showing that control over symptoms gradually leads to deterioration of marital interactions and to the components of marital dissolution.

Keywords: couple; dyadic dynamic; early-onset dementia; interpretative phenomenological analysis; qualitative study.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged