Positive experiences in older people with early stage dementia

Radbourne, Emma Louise

Clinical psychology
July 2008

Thesis or dissertation

© 2008 Emma Louise Radbourne. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis is divided into 3 parts:Part 1 is a systematic literature review entitled ‘Living Positively with Dementia’. The notion that people living with dementia can have positive experiences in spite of - or even because of - their illness remains widely disputed. In light of this controversy and the potential conceptual and clinical importance of documenting the subjective experience of dementia in all its variations, this review examines the current research evidence relating to positive lived experience in dementia. The review uncovered 63 studies containing evidence of positive experiences reported by people living with dementia. The methodological quality of the studies is evaluated along with consideration of how researchers have managed such reports. The findings of the review suggest that people with dementia are capable of experiencing positive emotions, and furthermore that dementia can uncover strengths in people, such as hope; faith; resilience; wisdom; altruism; humor; optimism; perseverance; and courage.Part 2 is an empirical study which investigates one of the positive constructs highlighted by the review - hope. The paper examines the subjective experience of hope in older people with early-stage dementia and explores factors that facilitate or hinder hopefulness in this population. Ten participants were each interviewed and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify themes within their accounts. The study considers how hopefulness in dementia compares with existing definitions of hope and the existing literature on age; dependency; and coping, in order to provide a thematic framework for understanding how hope may support individuals with dementia to maintain their quality of life, and to consider the scope for hope-fostering strategies.Part 3 consists of the appendixes relating to the research, including a reflective statement on the process of carrying out the research. The statement includes reflection on all aspects of research from planning to carrying out the research project.

Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
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