Seminar. Understanding resilience and its role in family caregiving for a person with dementia

Date: Friday 10th February 2017
Venue: G006, ILAS, NUI Galway
Presenter: Dr Attracta Lafferty,  School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin

Attracta is currently a Social Researcher in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems at University College Dublin. She commenced her studies at University of Ulster with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology, followed by a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology, and in 2009, she was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy, also from the University of Ulster. Since then, she has completed the Graduate Diploma in Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin.

Attracta has worked on several health and well-being research projects involving vulnerable adults, including older people and people with intellectual disabilities and her areas of research interest include family caregiving, elder abuse, ageing, intellectual disability and stress and coping. Her recent roles have included Associate Centre Director of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at UCD, Principal Investigator on a National Disability Authority funded project involving family carers of people with intellectual disability and currently she is project manager of a HRB-funded project, entitled ‘Towards Resilience in Family Caregiving for People with Dementia’.


Understanding resilience and its role in family caregiving for a person with dementia


Family caregiving can be a positive and enriching experience, however many carers find themselves engaged in difficult, challenging and demanding caregiving roles. Some carers may experience negative effects of caregiving including anxiety, depression and carer burden. However, not all carers experience negative outcomes as a consequence of caregiving, instead they are able to adapt to, resist, or recover from the physical and psychological demands of caring. Such carers may be considered ‘resilient’. Resilience in adults can be operationally defined as ‘the process of effectively negotiating, adapting to, or managing significant sources of stress or trauma’, and having the capacity to bounce back in the face of adversity. Being resilient involves having assets and resources to counterbalance the effects of significant adversity, subsequently facilitating positive adaptation or avoidance of negative carer outcomes (Windle 2011).

This presentation will explore the role of resilience when caring for a person with dementia. Resilience will be discussed as a multi-faceted construct, exploring how the various components and associated factors of resilience apply to caregiving for a person with dementia. The seminar will also present details of a three year HRB-funded research project which, through the use of participatory action research, aims to develop and promote resilience among family carers of people with dementia.