Charlotte Cowell (Hull) on love and dementia care

You can download her presentation here.


Charlotte Cowell, The role of care home staff in facilitating continuity of love for couples living with dementia following a transition into residential care.

Objectives: Dementia care is most commonly provided by spouses, suggesting that caregiving may be an act of love. The experience of love has so far not been explored in dementia research, and very little is known about spouses’ experiences of love when their spouse diagnosed with dementia moves into residential care, and how care home staff may be involved in facilitating this.  A qualitative study was therefore conducted to explore the experiences and meaning of love in relationships for spouses married to a person living with dementia following a transition into residential care.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine older adults who were married to a partner diagnosed with dementia who lived in residential care. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to understand the subjective lived experiences of love in the participants’ relationships.

Results: Overall, the analysis identified three super-ordinate themes which highlighted the tensions faced within love and relationships for participants’ and their spouses, with progression of dementia and the transition into care. Love could be identified through the performative action of care, which became a natural addition to the relationship as the dementia progressed. Following a transition into care, participants identified that care homes often play a key role in either facilitating or hindering continuity of their caring role, and as such, contribute to the continuity of love.

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