Title

Culturally and linguistically diverse carers’ experience of caring for a family member with dementia : an Italian Australian perspective

Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Professor Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Matt Merema

Abstract

Dementia is a gradual and progressive disease that is often accompanied by challenging emotional and behavioural change in addition to physical degeneration (Cahill, 1999). The process of caring for a family member with dementia has been recognised as a highly challenging and potentially stressful experience (Donaldson, Tarrier, & Burns, 1998; Papastavrou et al., 2011; Pinquart & Sorenson, 2007). The adverse consequences of dementia caregiving on the caregiver’s mental and physical health are well documented in the literature (Black & Almeida, 2004; Burns & Rabins, 2000; Gallant & Connell, 1997; Volicer, 2005). Research has suggested that there is a strong cultural basis to beliefs and values associated with caregiving (Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australian, 2008). Empirical studies have identified differences in the expression of help-seeking behaviour and service utilisation within culturally diverse populations (Low et al., 2009). However, most research exploring the experience of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) caregivers has been conducted in the United Kingdom and the United States of America (Broughtwood et al., 2011). As a consequence, very little is known about the caregiving experience of culturally and linguistically diverse populations within Australia (Low et al., 2009). The current study adopted a phenomenological methodology to explore the lived experience of Italian Australian carers (n = 9) of a family member with dementia. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of interview data identified three superordinate themes, the Impact of Caring, Responsibilities and Expectations, and the Experience of Support as fundamental to participants’ experience of caregiving. This study is limited by its use of Englishspeaking participants. Consequently, Italian Australian carers who cannot speak English and who may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing social isolation and access barriers to support were excluded from this research. Future research examining the experience of caregivers from a variety of different CALD communities is recommended.

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