“CARING FOR A DYING LOVED ONE CAN BE A FULL-TIME AND EXHAUSTIVE COMMITMENT, BUT THE GRIEF, GENERAL HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE THAT THE CARER EXPERIENCES BEFORE AND AFTER DEATH CAN SOMETIMES BE OVERLOOKED,” SAYS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR BREEN.
Family members who have been the primary carer for a dying loved one may experience considerable grief, poor health and quality of life for several months after the person has died, ARC-supported research led by Curtin University has found. The research also examined whether the grief a carer experiences while caring can predict grief following the death. ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Associate Professor Lauren Breen, from the School of Psychology at Curtin University, said family carers are integral to providing end-of-life care for people receiving palliative care, but the tasks of caregiving can have a significant and lasting impact on them. By measuring how carers were feeling in the time period leading up to the death, and then at three different time periods following the death, the researchers were able to show that it took nine to ten months for the carers’ grief, general health, and quality of life to return to ‘normal’, compared with those who had no caring responsibilities. The researchers also found that while caring, the carers’ quality of life and general health was lower, and their grief was similar, to what they experienced three to four months following the death. The findings suggest that tailored support is needed to meet the specific needs of carers and that this should be available both before and after the death. Such interventions can help carers prepare for the death, improve their health and quality of life, and promote adaptive grieving. THE LASTING IMPACT OF CAREGIVING FOR A DYING LOVED ONE
Helping the needy stock photo. Istock.com/Lighthaunter.
IMPROVING HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
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