A qualitative investigation of the self-concept of older adults presenting with the symptoms of dementia

Reed, Tracey (2000). A qualitative investigation of the self-concept of older adults presenting with the symptoms of dementia. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e2db



Historically, a predominantly biomedical understanding of dementia developed. In contrast, research investigating the subjective experiences of people with dementia has been limited. The present study aimed to develop a greater understanding of whether older people recognise their symptoms of dementia, and their perception of the effect of dementia on relationships and activities. Furthermore, the impact of these on self-concept was investigated.


The study employed a cross sectional qualitative research paradigm following the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and also drew upon Grounded Theory Methodology. The principles of content analysis were also employed to measure the participant's recognition of their symptoms of dementia.


Ten participants, five male and five female were recruited through four NHS mental health services for older people. Participants were older adults, exhibiting the symptoms of dementia in the mild to moderate range of severity and who had been informed of a diagnosis e.g., memory problems. The Mini Mental State Examination was administered to assess dementia severity to establish inclusion criteria. The Geriatric Depression Scale- 15 (GDS-lS) was administered to assess the severity of depression. Face to face interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview schedule to address the aims described above.


Using content analysis it emerged that participants spontaneously mentioned their recognition of two or more symptoms of dementia and a further four or more when prompted. The rest of the interview data were analysed using JPA. Themes and categories were generated from the data and organised into three sections, 1) participants' reactions

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