Change in carers' activities after the death of their partners
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Purpose: When a person is dying and during bereavement, family members often put their lives on hold to provide full-time care. Meaningful activities may be curtailed or forgotten. This study described the activities that changed between pre- and post-caring, and what factors assisted carers to re-engage in activities 2 years following the death of their partners. Methods: A mixed methods design included a cross-sectional survey and face-to-face interviews. The study occurred in 2009 with 40 females that cared for a partner who had subsequently died of cancer 2 years previously. Engagement in community and other activities was determined through use of the Activity Card Sort–Australia and semi-structured interviews. The SF-36v2 measured physical and mental health status, and perceived social support was measured using the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support.Results: Most carers in our study were more engaged in household activities post-caring compared to their pre-caring activities, but had decreased social and leisure activities. Living as a single person meant they had taken on new roles and responsibilities. Leisure and social activities previously associated with subjective well-being and health were reduced or lost. Greater social support contributed to a higher retention of activities post-caring. Conclusions: Retention of activities could be facilitated by participation in community services, recreational groups and other support and interest groups, both during and after caring.
The final publication is available at Springer via http://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-013-2014-1
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