Background: Health crises in persons living with dementia challenge their caregivers to make pivotal decisions, often under pressure, and to act in new ways on behalf of their care recipient. Disruption of everyday routines and heightened stress are familiar consequences of these events. Hospitalization for acute illness or injury is a familiar health crisis in dementia. The focus of this study is to describe the lived experience of dementia family caregivers whose care recipients had a recent unplanned admission, and to identify potential opportunities for developing preventive interventions. Methods: Family caregivers (n = 20) of people with dementia who experienced a recent hospitalization due to an ambulatory care sensitive condition or fall-related injury completed phone interviews. Interviews used semi-structured protocols to elicit caregivers' reactions to the hospitalization and recollections of the events leading up to it. Results: Analysis of interview data identified four major themes: (1) caregiver is uncertain how to interpret and act on the change; (2) caregiver is unable to provide necessary care; (3) caregiver experiences a personal crisis in response to the patient's health event; (4) mitigating factors may prevent caregiver crises. Conclusions: This study identifies a need for clinicians and family caregivers to work together to avoid health crises of both caregivers and people with dementia and to enable caregivers to manage the health of their care recipients without sacrificing their own health and wellness.
- adverse events
- primary care