Stories about life narrated by people with Alzheimer's disease

Authors


Abstract

Aim

To explore how people with Alzheimer's disease present their life story.

Background

Life story work is a key concept in a person-centred care. An important aspect in understanding the subjective experience and supporting the identity of people with dementia is to listen to their life stories.

Design

A narrative design with interviews was used.

Method

Nine participants with Alzheimer's disease were encouraged to tell about their lives from childhood, adult life, to present life and about their thoughts on the future. The interviews were conducted between September 2010–March 2011 in the participants' homes, with their spouses present and were analysed with a method for analysis of narratives.

Findings

Contentment, Connectedness, Self-reliance and Personal growth were identified as core dimensions in the participants' life stories and shown like threads throughout life, from childhood, adult life to present life. All participants expressed an overall contentment with life, and connectedness was related to their relation with significant persons and to be included in the local community. Self-reliance was expressed as a strong confidence in the own ability and an overall curiosity throughout life as a sustained quest for personal growth.

Conclusions

It is important for healthcare professionals, who work with people with dementia, to understand that people with Alzheimer's disease can maintain an overall trusting and hopeful approach to life. It is also important to use life story work to enhance feelings of being connected to the world and thereby support their identity and sense of self.

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