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Qual Health Res. 2019 Sep 25:1049732319874782. doi: 10.1177/1049732319874782. [Epub ahead of print]

Maintaining Social Connections in Dementia: A Qualitative Synthesis.

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University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
University College London, London, United Kingdom.
North East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom.


The clinical symptoms of dementia include difficulty with speech, poor short-term memory, and changes in behavior. These symptoms can affect how the person with dementia understands and performs in social interactions. This qualitative review investigated how people with mild to moderate dementia managed social connections. A systematic search of social science databases retrieved 13 articles; data were synthesized using thematic analysis. Results established the work undertaken by people with dementia to maintain and present a social persona seen as socially acceptable. Interpretations are contextualized within Goffman and Sabat's theories on "self." People with dementia were agentic in impression management: undertaking work to maintain recognized social roles, while being aware of when their illness led to others discrediting them. Wider recognition of strategies used to maintain a social self could inform interventions designed to increase capability and confidence in co-managing social connections following dementia diagnosis.


Canada; Europe; Goffman; North America; Sabat; agency; dementia; literature review; qualitative; self; social construction; sociology; stigma


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