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Scand J Occup Ther. 2013 Jul;20(4):292-301. doi: 10.3109/11038128.2012.752031. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Managing critical incidents in grocery shopping by community-living people with Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Occupational Therapy, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden.



People with Alzheimer's disease (AD) remain in their ordinary housing and continue to use public space despite increasing disabilities. The aim of this study was to discover and describe problematic situations and critical incidents that took place when people with AD performed the ordinary outside-home activity of grocery shopping and how these were met by them.


Individual interviews (n = 12) and participant observations (n = 8) with six informants were performed and analysed using a grounded theory approach.


The findings are presented in six categories and each category describes different critical incidents and actions used to meet these. The categories were: (a) Remembering to bring things when leaving home, (b) Finding the way to and from the grocery shop without getting lost, (c) Finding a way through traffic when not feeling safe, (d) Finding objects when organization is disrupted, (e) Choosing when a lot of objects and products are available, and (f) Finding a method to pay when payment opportunities are restricted. The core category, "A challenging and unstable process of meeting critical incidents in grocery shopping", was characterised by reflections and creativity to achieve relative harmony in each critical incident.


In conclusion, it is important that relatives and professionals take into account relevant actions to help people with AD coordinate with their environment.

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