Title

Caring for older people living alone with dementia: Healthcare professionals’ experiences

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Publication Title

Dementia

Volume

15

Issue

2

First Page

221

Last Page

238

DOI

10.1177/1471301214523280

Keywords

community care, Dementia, healthcare professionals, Living alone, older people

Abstract

Older adults living alone with dementia are at greater risk of placement in long-term care homes compared with those living with others. Healthcare professionals have vital roles in supporting them to continue living in the community. Yet, little is known about how healthcare professionals fulfill these roles and what their experiences are like. The study purpose was to describe health care professionals’ experiences of caring for older people with dementia living alone. Using a qualitative descriptive approach and qualitative content analysis method, 15 healthcare professionals were interviewed in Ontario, Canada. The overall theme of the findings, doing the best we can for them, involved discussing sensitive care issues with what professionals viewed as gentle realism. Walking the tightrope expressed tensions in meeting professional responsibilities. Constraints (my hands are tied) and boundaries (it’s not my job, it’s not my decision) described perceived limitations on professional roles. Effects of the emotional struggle involved in working with these older people were lessened by believing I did the right thing. The findings have implications for what we could do better for older people with dementia living alone, through integration of person-centered/relationship-centered principles in education programs, community agency policies, a national dementia care strategy, and culture change in community care. © 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.