Spouses' existential loneliness when caring for a frail partner late in life: a hermeneutical approach.

Helena Larsson, Margareta Rämgård, Christine Kumlien, Kerstin Blomqvist

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Sammanfattning

Purpose: Spouses are in a vulnerable situation when caring for a frail partner late in life. Exploring their existential loneliness can be a way to understand more about their existential needs.Method: A hermeneutic approach was used. Multistage focus group interviews were conducted with two groups consisting of five spouses, respectively, who met three times each. To work with the text, an approach was adapted where quotations are converted into poems in a linguistic manner.Results: Existential loneliness can be understood as the following: 1) being in a transition from us to merely me, 2) being forced to make decisions and feeling excluded, 3) navigating in an unfamiliar situation and questioning oneself, and 4) longing for togetherness but lacking the energy to encounter other people. The main interpretation is that existential loneliness emerges when one is in moments of inner struggle, when one is forced to make impossible choices, when one is approaching and is in limit situations, and when one is experiencing the endless loss of the other.Conclusion: For health care professionals to achieve a holistic picture, person-centeredness can be a way to make the spouses' existential needs visible and to provide support based on their needs.

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