There was an Old Woman: Maintenance of Identity by People with Alzheimer’s Dementia
In this chapter, we examine how people with Alzheimer’s disease maintain their identity and sense of self as evidenced in their conversation over time. An individual’s ability to produce and retain self-identity is a requisite skill for social interaction. Researchers have demonstrated that this ability is not destroyed by the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease itself (Kitwood 1990; 1993, 1997; Kitwood and Bredin 1992a; 1992b; Sabat and Harré 1992). The neurological impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease does, however, make it more difficult for the individual to effectively organize and sustain their various “selves.” Focusing on causative factors within the social milieu, social science research is turning to studies of social interactions which may influence the progression of the disease (Golander & Raz, 1996; Kitwood, 1990, 1993, 1997; Kitwood & Bredin, 1992b; Nussbaum, 1991; Sabat & Harre, 1992; Sabat 2002) and its social causes (Kitwood 1990). Utilizing a lifecourse perspective, our focus in this chapter is on how the person with dementia retains and communicates a sense of identity by recounting memories and life experiences, personal values and views. The focus is on the lifetime of experiences and choices that the individual brings with him or her to later life and the experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Atchley, Robert & Barusch, Amanda (2003) Aging: Continuity and Change. (10th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
- Chaudhury, Habib (2003) “Toward a theory of (re) discovering the self in dementia: place as a pathway”. Presented at the annual conference of the Gerontological Society of America, San Diego, November 22, 2003.Google Scholar
- Clare, Linda (2003) “The predicament of self in dementia”, symposium discussion paper presented at the annual conference of the Gerontological Society of America, San Diego, November 22, 2003.Google Scholar
- Downs, Murna & Surr, Claire (2003) “Theories of self and the implications for dementia care,” presented at the annual conference of the Gerontological Society of America, San Diego, November 22, 2003.Google Scholar
- Goffman, Erving (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press.Google Scholar
- Harris, Phyllis B. & Sterin, Gloria J. (1999) “Insider’s perspective: defining and preserving the self of dementia”. Journal of Mental Health and Aging, 5: 241–56.Google Scholar
- Kitwood, Tom (1997) Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Kitwood, Tom & Benson, Sue (eds.) (1995) The New Culture of Dementia Care. London: Hawker.Google Scholar
- Kitwood, Tom & Bredin, Kathleen (1992a) “A new approach to the evaluation of dementia care”. Journal of Advances in Health and Nursing Care, 1(5): 41–60.Google Scholar
- Quadagno, Jill (2005) Aging and the Life Course: An Introduction to Social Gerontology (3rd edition). NY: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
- Sabat, Steven (2002) “Selfhood and Alzheimer’s Disease.” In Phyllis Harris (ed.) The Person with Alzheimer’s Disease: Pathways to Understanding the Experience. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 88–111.Google Scholar
- Small, Jeff A., Geldart, Kathy, Gutman, Gloria & Scott, Mary Ann Clark (1998) “The discourse of self in dementia”. Ageing and Society, 18: 291–316.Google Scholar