How does carer resilience change over time and care status? A qualitative longitudinal study

Aging Ment Health. 2019 Nov;23(11):1510-1516. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2018.1503998. Epub 2018 Nov 18.


Objectives: Little research examines trajectories of carer resilience or the factors that facilitate or hinder resilience over time. We use qualitative longitudinal methods to examine trajectories of resilience and which assets and resources are associated with resilience and care status transitions in spousal dementia carers. Method: Based on an original sample of 23 spousal dementia carers (Donnellan, Bennett, & Soulsby, 2015 ), we conducted 13 follow-up interviews, including: 5 continuing home carers, 3 former carers (institutionalised), and 5 former carers (widowed). Results: Five participants remained resilient (stable resilient), three remained non-resilient (stable non-resilient) and four participants became resilient (non-resilient to resilient). Only one participant became non-resilient (resilient to non-resilient). Stable resilience was characterised by continuing individual assets and community resources. Carers who became resilient returned to previous resources, or gained new resources. Conclusion: Institutionalisation and widowhood are not always barriers to resilience; spousal dementia carers can remain or even become resilient over time despite deteriorating health, institutionalisation, or death of the care recipient.

Keywords: Spousal care; dementia; longitudinal; resilience; transitions.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Time Factors