Death may still come as a shock for family carers, research finds

April 17, 2018 by Hailey Ross, Curtin University

Family members who are caring for a dying loved one are often mentally and behaviourally prepared for the death but require support to ensure they are emotionally prepared, new Curtin University research shows.

The paper, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, was the first study to focus solely on the experiences of when preparing for a relative's .

Lead author Associate Professor Lauren Breen, from the School of Psychology at Curtin University, said the research offered important information for that might assume that carers are emotionally prepared for their loved one's death given the length of their illness.

"There is a tendency to assume that family caregivers are prepared for the death of the person they have been caring for, but this research shows that is not always the case," Associate Professor Breen said.

"While family carers might be mentally prepared in the sense that they are aware of their loved one's symptoms and prognosis and behaviourally prepared because they have planned the finances, Wills or funeral, many do not feel prepared emotionally for life after their loved one has died. Carers tend to be so busy with the tasks of caring that focussing on their own preparations often takes a backseat.

"This is an important aspect in a family carer's preparation for their loved one's death because a failure to address all these issues can be linked to post-death complicated grief, depression and anxiety."

Associate Professor Breen said the research showed family carers would benefit from additional support to ensure they are emotionally prepared for their loved one's death.

"Palliative care services should not assume that all are well-prepared for the death, even if they have been caring for their loved one for a considerable amount of time," Associate Professor Breen said.

"Family carers would likely benefit from being prepared for their loved one's death, and this study shows we really should talk more about these issues in the community."

As part of this study, 16 family carers, aged 45 to 77 years, were interviewed about their experiences in caring for a family member receiving palliative care. The majority of patients had a .

Explore further: Research highlights the need to support family carers when discharging dying patients

More information: Lauren J. Breen et al. Family Caregivers' Preparations for Death: A Qualitative Analysis, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2018.02.018

Related Stories

Research highlights the need to support family carers when discharging dying patients

March 1, 2018
New research funded by Marie Curie has highlighted the importance of identifying the support needs of family carers before dying patients are discharged from hospital so that carers are better prepared for end of life caregiving ...

More research needed on medication management in dementia

July 25, 2014
Family carers of people with dementia need more help with medication management according to a new report involving the University of East Anglia, which was led by the University of Aston.

Grieving advice to improve support services

February 1, 2016
When it comes to the death of a loved one, who better to give you advice than someone who has been in a similar situation?

Stroke survivors and their carers often have poor mental health

July 28, 2017
Recent research has shed light on how stroke impacts not only a person's physical health and well-being, but also their social and mental health. While this may not be surprising, the simultaneous decrease in mental health ...

New survey looks at caring for families of dementia patients

April 23, 2014
Placing a family member with dementia in residential care is a difficult decision in a carer's life, which is why a new QUT study is looking to uncover what factors can make the transition easier.

Recommended for you

Male contraceptive compound stops sperm without affecting hormones

April 20, 2018
A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE details how a compound called EP055 binds to sperm proteins to significantly slow the overall mobility of the sperm without affecting hormones, making EP055 a potential ...

A dose of empathy may support patients in pain

April 20, 2018
Research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that empathic, positive messages from doctors may be of small benefit to patients suffering from pain, and improve their satisfaction about the care ...

New research suggests possible link between sudden infant death syndrome and air pollution

April 20, 2018
A study led by the University of Birmingham suggests a possible association between exposure to certain pollutants and an increased risk of so-called 'cot death'.

For heavy lifting, use exoskeletons with caution

April 20, 2018
You can wear an exoskeleton, but it won't turn you into a superhero.

New device to help patients with rare disease access life-saving treatment

April 19, 2018
Patients with a rare medical condition can receive life-saving treatment at the touch of a button thanks to a new device developed by scientists.

Low-cost anti-hookworm drug boosts female farmers' physical fitness

April 19, 2018
Impoverished female farm workers infected with intestinal parasites known as hookworms saw significant improvements in physical fitness when they were treated with a low-cost deworming drug. The benefits were seen even in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.