Coping strategies of family carers for older relatives in Finland

Merja Kuuppelomäki, Akiko Sasaki, Kouko Yamada, Noriko Asakawa, Setsu Shimanouchi
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2004, 13 (6): 697-706

BACKGROUND: As the population continues to age, it is important that older people and their family carers get all the help and support they need with coping. This requires knowledge and understanding of the factors that foster and promote coping strategies, and on the other hand that complicate coping.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: Conducted as part of a major international research project on carers' work and coping in four countries, the purpose of this study was to explore the coping strategies of family carers looking after older relatives in their own home and to identify related factors.

DESIGN: A survey involving 290 family carers from three towns in Finland.

METHODS: The data were collected with a questionnaire including the Carers' Assessment of Managing Index developed by Nolan et al. (1995).

RESULTS: The most helpful coping strategy was to establish one's priorities and concentrate on them. Other strategies that over 80% of the respondents regarded as helpful were believing in oneself and one's ability to handle the situation, taking life 1 day at a time, looking for positive things in each situation and relying on one's own expertise and experience. The 10 most helpful coping methods included five problem-solving strategies, four emotional-cognitive strategies and one managing stress strategy. The age and gender of the family carers were found to correlate with the results.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings lend further support to earlier results according to which there are both similarities and differences in the coping strategies of family carers in different countries.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Nurses who meet family carers of ageing individuals in their work will be able to use these results in assessing how these carers are coping and whether they need support, as well as in developing services for family carers.

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