For better or for worse

Researchers in Queensland are exploring the effects of a dementia diagnosis on couples’ relationships.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are investigating the ways that a diagnosis of dementia affects a couple’s relationship

Jennifer O’Brien from QUT’s School of Psychology and Counselling said a dementia diagnosis could have a profound impact on the way partners interact with each other.

“We’re hoping to understand what happens at this time and see what leads to better coping,” she said.

Ms O’Brien, a Masters student, and Dr Zoe Hazelwood are seeking the views of people with a recent diagnosis of dementia, as well as their partners.
 
“A lot of research is conducted into how family members respond to diagnoses but it is relatively rare to ask the person who has just been diagnosed,” Ms O’Brien said.

“We are seeking the views of both the person diagnosed and their partner because we know that just because you receive a diagnosis doesn’t mean you’re unable to talk about your experiences and it doesn’t mean that your relationship is less important.”

The research findings will inform the development of programs to assist couples at this challenging time.

Participants should be couples and one partner aged over 65 must have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia or a form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration in the past six months.

Both partners would be expected to complete a written questionnaire about their relationship and their response to the diagnosis.

Ms O’Brien said the questionnaires could be mailed to participants or they could be completed at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus.

Couples who would like to complete the survey should contact Jennifer O’Brien on 0419 724 995 or j13.obrien@connect.qut.edu.au

Tags: dementia, diagnosis, relationships, research,

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