Poster Presentation

Monday, November 5, 2007
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Monday, November 5, 2007
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM
This presentation is part of : Rising Stars Posters
Living with memory loss - understanding subjective experiences during early stage dementia
Hanna-Mari Pesonen, RN, MNSc, Department of Nursing Science and Health Administration, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Learning Objective #1: understand the experience of living with dementia.
Learning Objective #2: understand the importance of knowledge concerning subjective experiences of people with dementia.

Although there has been a growing interest in understanding peoples’ subjective experiences of living with dementia, there are still limited findings on this issue. Most of the studies are cross-sectional studies and there is a need for more longitudinal research.

Dementia has diverse psychosocial impacts on the life of the patient and the family. Living with early stage dementia is described as individualized transitional process that starts before diagnosis is given. Receiving the diagnosis is a turning point that has multiple effects on both person with dementia and the family. Dementia causes changes, losses and difficulties in many domains of life. It affects persons’ self-esteem and identity as well as changes social roles and relationships in family.

This qualitative study follows subjective experiences of both people living with early stage dementia and their significant others during the early phase of the illness. The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to describe and understand what it means to live with dementia. The research data consists of narrative interviews of both people with dementia and their significant others and observations made during home visits. The underlying premise in this study is the assumption that telling the story of our lives gives direction, validates our experiences and restores value to living. Stories can bring order to our experiences and feelings and help us to make sense of events in our lives.

There is a need to develop supportive nursing practices that involve both people with dementia and their family as an active participant in their care and can help them to process their experiences and feelings in a changing situation. This study aims to respond to this challenging need by producing knowledge from the viewpoints of both people living with early stage dementia and their significant others.