Background Family caregivers of people with dementia (PWDs) experience significant physical, psychological, and social burdens. Empowerment, which refers to the process of gaining power in society through behavioral change, is important to coping successfully with care-related burdens. The high burden of care faced by family caregivers in Japan often makes accepting social support difficult for caregivers of PWDs, resulting in feelings of isolation. Clarifying what components constitute empowering experiences for family caregivers of PWDs is necessary to gain a better understanding of their empowerment experiences and to develop relevant support schemes. Purpose This study was developed to describe the components of empowerment experienced by family caregivers of community-dwelling PWDs in Japan. Methods This qualitative descriptive study used semistructured in-depth interviews to explore components of empowerment experienced by family caregivers of adults/older adults with dementia. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 20 family caregivers (age range: 50-87 years) from four self-help groups. A qualitative content analysis method was used to analyze the data. The components derived from the interviews were reviewed by three nursing researchers not directly involved in this study who are specialists in qualitative research and geriatric nursing. Results Four categories and 12 subcategories were derived to illuminate the components of empowerment among family caregivers of PWDs. Specifically, these categories were as follows: (a) proactive aspects of dementia care that were acquired through the caregiving experience, (b) creating a relationship that respects PWDs, (c) Building relationships based on mutual understanding of one's surroundings, and (d) understanding the social aspects of dementia care. Conclusions/Implications for Practice The findings of this study provide additional understanding of the components of the empowerment experiences of family caregivers of PWDs in Japan and in other East Asian countries experiencing increasing dementia diagnoses and population aging. In addition, the structural components of empowerment offer a useful perspective for health professionals on assessment and intervention that is framed on the cultural characteristics of East Asia. Ultimately, the results suggest that healthcare professionals should develop intervention programs that are tailored to the needs of caregivers at different levels of empowerment.
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