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Shared Occupation When One Spouse Has Dementia. Sandra Hobson School of Occupational Therapy The University of Western Ontario & Melanie Wipprecht Sudbury Regional Hospital. Conflict of Interest Disclosure Sandra J G Hobson, MAEd, LLD, OT Reg.(Ont.)

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Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Shared Occupation When One Spouse Has Dementia

Sandra Hobson

School of Occupational Therapy

The University of Western Ontario

& Melanie Wipprecht

Sudbury Regional Hospital


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

Sandra J G Hobson, MAEd, LLD, OT Reg.(Ont.)

has no real or apparent conflicts of interest

to report.


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Purpose of the Study activities/occupations

  • To explore how shared activities/occupations support both personhood and couplehood


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Data Sources activities/occupations

  • Elegy for Iris, John Bayley*

  • A curious kind of widow: Loving a man with advanced Alzheimer’s, Ann Davidson*

  • My journey into Alzheimer’s disease: Helpful insights for family and friends, Bob Davis †

  • Different minds: Living with Alzheimer disease, Lorna Drew *& Leo Ferrari†

  • I still do: Living and loving with Alzheimer, Judith Fox*

  • Partial view: An Alzheimer’s journal, Carrie Henderson †

  • Living in the labyrinth: A personal journey through the maze of Alzheimer’s, Diana McGowan †

  • Ice cream in the cupboard: A true story of early onset Alzheimer’s, Pat Moffat*

  • The long way home: A journey though Alzheimer’s, Marian Ritchie*

  • A glass full of tears: Dementia day-by-day, Joan Lund Shipplett*

  • Through the wilderness of Alzheimer’s: A guide in two voices, Robert † & Anne* Simpson


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Data Analysis activities/occupations

  • Selected passages describing shared activities

  • Constant comparative method


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results activities/occupations

  • All books had accounts of shared activity

  • There were many accounts of shared self care and leisure

  • There were fewer accounts of shared paid/ household work


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results – Self Care activities/occupations

  • I required Jack’s escort to the grocery store due to my damaged inner compass. He would telephone during the day to remind me to do the laundry or other duties. (McGowin, 1994, p.73)

  • I hope I never have to see another day like today. I have to follow him around all day to keep checking on him. He leaves lights on in rooms, opens drawers and doesn’t close them, uses things and doesn’t put them back, and he doesn’t know how to put his clothes on a hanger. (Shipplett, 1996, p.73-74)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results – Paid Work and Household Tasks activities/occupations

  • He cannot see how things fit together. If he is working on some little project around the house, he calls me to show him the order or the direction for fitting things together. When I lay them for him he can complete the project. (Davis, 1989, p.78)

  • In the two years between Cary’s diagnosis and his retirement, he continued to teach part-time, thanks to the understanding and compassion of his department head. But by the end of the first semester of the second year, … I had to grade his exams when he brought them home and looked at me helplessly… (Henderson, 1998, p.xix)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results – Leisure activities/occupations

  • Edwin enjoyed listening to me read to him every day ... I’m sure he didn’t follow most of the stories I read, but he seemed to enjoy the gentle tone of my voice, reaction to the cadence or rhythmic flow of sound. (Ritchie, 2005, p.177)

  • Once in the water, Iris cheered up a bit. It was almost too warm, hardly refreshing. But its old brown slow flowing deliciousness remained, and we smiled happily at each other as we paddled quietly to and fro. (Bayley, 1999, p.37)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results – Conversation activities/occupations

  • But we can’t have conversations based on shared experiences. There’s no longer a pool of shared memories with which to reminisce, events of the day to mull over, opinion, observations to share. (Drew & Ferrari, 2005,p.84)

  • At times he’d have periods of lucidity, when we could converse logically ... (Ritchie, 2005, p.26)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results – Caregiving as a Spousal Role activities/occupations

  • Despite the difficulties, part of me enjoys the intimacy of caring for Julian. It’s like taking care of a toddler, expressing love and connecting through hands-on, daily concrete tasks. (Davidson, 2006, p.58)

  • I still have a mission…I have to keep Carmen comfortable and live as normally as possible for as long as we can. (Moffatt, 2007, p. 122)

  • When we choose to help ease the life and death of an Alzheimer’s sufferer, we are taking on a difficult, demanding, and heartbreaking role. And, yes, it’s also a privilege. (Fox, 2009, p.80)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Results – Caregiving as a Spousal Role activities/occupations

  • Did I do all those things for myself as much as for my husband? Perhaps so! I really couldn’t tell you what motivated me exactly, as it was a combination of things, including love and pity and a strong sense of duty. However, I just knew that I had to do all I could to give my husband some quality of life, some reason to keep on living, because I wasn’t ready to lose him yet either. He was also my reason for living, and as long as he needed me, I needed to be there for him. (Ritchie, 2005, p.303-304)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Discussion activities/occupations

  • Categories of assisted activites:

    • Hygene/dressing

    • Meal prep/ medication

    • Supervision for all activities

    • Conversation

      (Hasselkus & Murray, 2007: Jansson, Nordberg, and Grafstrom , 2006; & Phenny, 2006)


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Discussion activities/occupations

Type of occupations shared mattered:

  • Leisure – enjoyable

  • Self care - burdensome (Voelkl, 1998).


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Discussion activities/occupations

Shared activities supported:

  • Personhood - directly

  • Couplehood - directly via leisure

    & indirectly via personhood


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Advantages activities/occupationsDisadvantages

Deep, rich, reflective accounts Cannot ask questions,

Very articulate accounts limited to what is included

Longitudinal perspective Cannot member check/

Public domain; no ethics verify data analysis

barriers Biased sample publish

Fairly readily available Editing by author/

Inexpensive publisher


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

Implications activities/occupations

  • Most caregiving - spouse

  • Sharing activities – part of caregiving

  • Shared occupations - support personhood

  • Shared leisure activities - support couplehood

  • Caregiving, as well as impact of shared occupations on personhood and couplehood, merit further investigation


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

References activities/occupations

Hellstrom, I., Nolan, M., & Lundh, U. (2005). We do things together: A case study of couplehood in dementia. Dementia, 4, 7-22.

Jansson, W. Nordberg, G. Grafstrom, M. (2001). Patterns of elderly spousal caregiving in dementia care: An observational study. Journal of advanced nursing, 34, 804-812.

Perry, J., & O’ Connor, D. (2002). Preserving personhood: Remembering the spouse with dementia. Family Relations, 51, 55-62.

Phenny, A. (2006). Family strategies for supporting involvement in meaningful activity by persons with dementia. Journal of Family andNursing, 12 , 80-101.

Voekl, J. (1998). The shared activities of older adults with dementia and their caregivers. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 32,231- 239.

World Alzheimer International. (2009). World Alzheimer report. Available at: http://www.alz.co.uk/research/files/World%20Alzheimer%20Report.pdf.


Shared occupation when one spouse has dementia

shobson@uwo.ca activities/occupations