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Remaining hopeful in early-stage dementia: a qualitative study

Wolverson, Emma; Clarke, Christopher; Moniz-Cook, Esme

Authors

Dr Emma Wolverson E.Wolverson@hull.ac.uk
Clinical Lecturer and Faculty Ethics Committee Member

Christopher Clarke

Professor Esme Moniz-Cook E.D.Moniz-Cook@hull.ac.uk
Professor of Clinical Psychology of Ageing and Dementia Care Research/ Dementia Research Work Group Lead

Abstract

Objectives: Improving the quality of life for people living with dementia is widely accepted as an important outcome in dementia care services. Positive psychology, the systematic study of strengths, capacities, and personal resources, is one framework for understanding how a person with dementia might achieve this. This study investigated the subjective experience of hope–a construct from the discipline of positive psychology in older people with early-stage dementia.
Method: Ten volunteer participants over the age of 65 years were recruited from a memory clinic in England. Semi-structured interviews were used to explore participants’ hopes, in terms of their personal meaning, their resources, and the potential barriers and facilitators of hope in dementia. Interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).
Results: Eight themes were extracted, subsumed under two higher-order themes: ‘live in hope or die in despair’ and ‘keep living and keep living well’. Participants described how their internalized hope-fostering beliefs that were often learned during childhood were challenged by the reality of hope-hindering experiences associated with old age and dementia. A balancing process of re-appraisal enhanced resolution and this sense of stability then allowed them to develop positive attitudes towards common age-related constraints in their health and social circumstances.
Conclusion: The findings offer insight into the existence, nature, and relevance of hope in the lives of people with early-stage dementia. They provide a useful framework for developing hope-fostering strategies in early interventions that aim to assist individuals with dementia to maintain their quality of life.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 6, 2010
Journal Aging and Mental Health
Print ISSN 1360-7863
Electronic ISSN 1364-6915
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 4
Pages 450-460
Institution Citation Wolverson, E., Clarke, C., & Moniz-Cook, E. (2010). Remaining hopeful in early-stage dementia: a qualitative study. Aging and Mental Health, 14(4), (450-460). doi:10.1080/13607860903483110. ISSN 1360-7863
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13607860903483110
Keywords Hope; Dementia; Psychosocial interventions; Quality of life