Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

The Spiritual Needs of Community-Dwelling Older People Living With Early-Stage Dementia – A Qualitative Study

PURPOSE: To explore the spiritual needs of community-dwelling older people living with early-stage dementia. DESIGN: A descriptive qualitative research design with purposive sampling was used. METHODS: Ten older people who were receiving home care services from a mental hospital in central Taiwan were recruited. In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted and content analysis was performed. FINDINGS: Four themes emerged that described the spiritual wishes and needs of older people with early-stage dementia: the wish to turn back time, the need to instill meaning into past experiences, the need to rely on faith-based strength, and the wish to have one’s remaining life under control. The spiritual needs centered on a strong yearning to engage in a tug-of-war with time to reverse the impaired memory and independence. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides insights into the spiritual needs of older people with early-stage dementia. They struggled to maintain a balance between independence and dependence, build a sense of self and value, seek guidance and support from religious faith, and retain control over their lives. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The findings can be expected to help caregivers improve care of older people with dementia by empowering older people to hold onto control in their lives and providing opportunities for them to connect with others for fulfilling their spiritual needs.