The Shift in Existential Life Situations of Adult Children to Parents with Dementia Relocated to Nursing Homes

Linda Høgsnes*, Karl-Gustaf Norbergh, Ella Danielson, Christina Melin-Johansson
Department of Nursing Sciences, Mid Sweden University, SE- 831 25 Östersund, Sweden

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© Høgsnes et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Nursing Sciences, Mid Sweden University, SE- 831 25 Östersund, Sweden; Tel: +46 0101428184; E-mail:



Previous research describes spouses and adult children of people with dementia as a homogeneous group using one term: family caregivers. Recent research shows that the needs and experiences of spouses and adult children differ, therefore they cannot be studied as a homogeneous group.


The aim of the study was to describe the shift in existential life situations of adult children of a parent with dementia relocated to nursing homes.


This is a qualitative study with an interpretive approach.


Face-to-face interviews were held with 11 adult children aged 48-65 years. The interviews lasted 30–60 minutes and data were analysed using interpretive content analysis.


The adult children described how they experienced their life situation before and after their parents’ relocation. Before relocation they described feelings of powerlessness, loneliness in their responsibilities, loss and guilt. After relocation they had feelings of freedom, ongoing responsibility, living with loss and having a new relationship with death.


The most important finding in our study was that adult children developed a different relationship with death than before the parent became affected by dementia. It is essential that healthcare staff understand and address the adult children’s existential life situations and the suffering they are experiencing. Healthcare staff need to be conscious about adult children’s needs for support to address their existential life situations before and after their parents relocate to nursing homes.

Keywords: Adult Children, Dementia, Existential, Nursing Homes, Qualitative Methods.