Despite the prevalence of women caring for stroke survivors, relatively little research has focused specifically on the experience and needs of informal female caregivers of stroke survivors. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the experience of female caregivers who care for an adult family member who has experienced a stroke within the previous year using a qualitative methodology. A sample of 46 female caregivers of stroke survivors completed a demographic form and responded to open-ended written questions exploring their experiences as caregivers and how they coped with changes in their lives during the first year after the stroke. Four concepts emerged from the data: losing the life that once was, coping with daily burdens, creating a new normal, and interacting with healthcare providers. Findings suggest that female caregivers of stroke survivors grieve the life that they once shared with the stroke survivor and struggle to cope with multiple family and work demands while trying their best to interact with healthcare providers to attain the best possible care for their loved ones. Recognizing the unique challenges of female caregivers of stroke survivors may help nurses provide better support and resources to meet their needs.
Nancy S. Hogan, PhD RN FAAN, is a distinguished professor and the director for research at the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Karen L. Saban, PhD APRN RN CNRN, at email@example.com. She is an assistant professor at the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, and a research health scientist at the Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care, Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital, Hines, IL.
The study was supported by the Loyola University Chicago, the Palmer Foundation, and the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch Foundation. In addition, Dr. Saban was supported by a 3-year Veterans Affairs Health Service Research and Development Postdoctoral Fellowship (TPN-42-001).
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.