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Theatre production: a positive metaphor for dementia care-giving

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Document pages: 16 pages

Abstract: Language can shape and reinforce attitudes and stereotypes about living with dementia. This can happen through use of metaphors. However, common metaphors may not capture the complexity of experience of dementia from the perspective of the individual person or a family carer. This paper presents an alternative metaphor – that of a theatre production – based on the strategies used by carers to support people with dementia to live well in the community. We conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 12 family members caring for someone with dementia in the community in Queensland, Australia. Our aim was to explore the strategies these carers used to provide support. Interview recordings were fully transcribed and thematically analysed. We identified positive care-giving strategies that described multiple roles that carers fulfilled as they felt increasingly responsible for day-to-day decision making. Family carers explained how they supported the person with dementia to remain a central character in their life and continued to support the person to be themselves. To achieve this, family carers embodied roles that we identified as similar to roles in a theatre production: director, stage manager, supporting cast, scriptwriter, and costume designer and wardrobe manager. Our metaphor of a theatre production offers a fresh perspective to explore the experience of informal care-giving in the context of dementia.

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