Citation Robertson J (2017) Using carer biographical narratives to explore factors involved in proxy reporting of quality of life in people with dementia. Aging and Mental Health, 21 (4), pp. 416-425. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2015.1109056
Abstract Objectives: Quality of life is an important focus of research on dementia, with interest in direct reports of people with dementia and proxy reports of their carers. By exploring the subjective perspectives of unpaid family carers and paid care workers, this study aims to understand how carers construct meaning in narratives about quality of life with dementia.
Method: A case-centred approach involved biographical narrative interviews with ten carers to explore what was important for people with dementia to have a good quality of life. Detailed narrative analysis attended to the linguistic and structural features of accounts to consider how dementia is conceptualised by carers in the framing of quality of life.
Results: An individual’s perception of how dementia impacts on awareness and behaviour was central to their understanding of quality of life. Carers who constructed dementia as a loss of skills and abilities were able to represent quality of life in positive terms despite the challenges of dementia. Carers who constructed dementia as eroding identity represented quality of life less positively and centred on their own means of coping with a challenging care situation.
Conclusion: Findings highlight the importance of helping carers develop positive constructions of quality of life that are associated with understanding dementia as a loss of skills and abilities, rather than as a loss of self. Engaging with subjectivity in carers’ biographical narrative accounts is important in the development of quality of life assessment to understand the meanings and emotions that underlie proxy perspectives.
Keywords caregiving; dementia; narrative; proxy; quality of life
Journal Aging and Mental Health: Volume 21, Issue 4