Tape-recorded semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 nursing aides and enrolled nurses in the geriatric clinic in Umeå, Sweden. The interviews focused on the difference between the care of demented and non-demented patients and ethical conflicts in dementia care. The results indicate that caregivers have problems in providing the demented patients with opportunities to act autonomously in everyday matters on the ward, mainly due to the difficulty of understanding what the patients wish and the fact that their wishes, when understood, often seem irrational. Measures to provide the demented patients with more opportunities to act autonomously in everyday matters are suggested.
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