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Resilience in older people living with dementia – A narrative analysis

Buggins, Sarah-Louise; Clarke, Christopher; Wolverson, Emma


Sarah-Louise Buggins

Christopher Clarke
Clinical Lecturer (research) and Consultant Clinical Psychologist

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Dr Emma Wolverson
Senior Lecturer Ageing and Dementia. Research Lead for Dementia UK.


Dominant discourses surrounding dementia tend to focus on narratives of loss and decline. Simultaneously, individuals living with dementia are vulnerable to being dispossessed of personal narratives supportive of identity and well-being. How older people with dementia story their experiences of resilience in this context has not previously been investigated. In response, this qualitative study utilised a narrative approach to understand lived experiences of resilience shared by eight older people living with dementia. Structural analyses indicated that participants’ personal narratives regarding resilience in living with dementia contained distinct and common phases (The Diagnosis, Initial Tasks, 'The High Point', Reflecting on Limitations and Focusing on Today) as well as a variety of dynamic characters. Overarching themes within participants’ narratives included sense of self/identity, being connected to others, sense of agency and having positive attitudes. Participants narrated richer, more active personal stories than those typically represented in dominant social discourses surrounding dementia. As such, their narratives depict lived experiences of resilience that unfolded over time in response to adversity and uncertainty and involved a dialectical process in relation to adjustment and well-being. The findings have important implications for the way resilience in living with dementia is framed and supported.


Buggins, S., Clarke, C., & Wolverson, E. (2021). Resilience in older people living with dementia – A narrative analysis. Dementia, 20(4), 1234-1249.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 23, 2020
Online Publication Date May 28, 2020
Publication Date May 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Dementia
Print ISSN 1471-3012
Electronic ISSN 1741-2684
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 1234-1249
Keywords Dementia; Resilience; Narrative; Identity; Well-being
Public URL
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