Purpose: The purpose of the study is to explore the socio-psychological coping process and experiences of families before and after institutionalization by applying the Corbin and Strauss ground research method. Method: Data collection from 9 participants with elderly institutionalized dementia with approval from directors of the institute was done by in depth interviews during a seven month period from May, 2003 to December, 2003. Data analysis was done by repeated reading of the transcribed interviews, and 344 concepts and 39 subcategories were generated. Results: Family members of the dementia elderly experienced various degrees of exhaustion, physically, mentally, and socially. The degree of their exhaustion was related to the severity of the family member's symptoms, and length of the dementia. Coping strategies were effected by economic status, social support from blood related families or neighbors, depth of their relationship with elderly institutionalized dementia. They were even affected by the elderly family members institutionalization. Conclusion: After institutionalization participants felt some guilt from not assuming their responsibilities as children. On the other hand they regained privacy, freedom, security, and comfort, so that their life returned to normal. They even felt more comfort because their elderly were living in a safer environment, and received a better quality of care. Participants had better composure, so that they could even take care of neighbors in need. They hope that there is more governmental involvement in terms of subsidy and numbers of institutes. Findings of the study will be a ground for the development of a coping program for families with elderly institutionalized dementia. Further studies are recommended to explore types of family, and to develop programs for the families to help them interact with each other.
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