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Self-compassion in informal caregivers of older adults: A qualitative investigation
  • Farah Wiita,
  • Netta Weinstein,
  • Aileen K. Ho
Farah Wiita
University of Reading School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Netta Weinstein
University of Reading School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
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Aileen K. Ho
University of Reading School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
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Abstract

Objectives Little is known about the nature and role of self-compassion in informal caregivers of older adults. The study aimed to explore caregivers’ understanding and experiences of self-compassion within their everyday lives. Methods This study involved semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 British caregivers of older adults. An inductive thematic analysis approach was used. Results Six themes were identified: In Self-compassion means connected self is prioritised, caregivers identified self-compassion to involve self-kindness, common humanity, and the self as priority; Compromise and conflict reflected stressors within the caring context and surrounding relationships; Resource depletion described how stressors increased physical or psychological strain, highlighting the need for self-compassion; Connection with others described how caregivers experienced self-compassion when they felt connected, but aloneness was experienced more often than not ; Coping mindset involved reframing and acceptance of challenges to foster self-compassion , and in Setting boundaries participants described maintaining a separate identity or role . Conclusions This study described key aspects of self-compassion experiences of caregivers in their everyday lives. It also identified facilitators and barriers to self-compassion which may inform possible interventions. Overall, self-compassion depended on mindset, clarity and understanding of the situation, and ability to maintain separation between ‘self’ and ‘caregiver’. These qualities were offset against barriers such as demands and compromises between lived experience and ideal recipient relationship, that made achieving self-compassion in these ways difficult.