Memory, Identity and Well-Being: Preserving Selfhood in Dementia
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
People with dementia face considerable challenges to preserving identity. It has frequently been observed that group reminiscence work helps sufferers re-establish their past identities as well as position themselves as members of a group in the present. To date, little research has attempted to put these claims directly to empirical test. Drawing on social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) this study explores the impact of a group reminiscence intervention in a sample of 58 cognitively impaired older adults living in residential care. Measures of identity, well-being and cognition were taken before and after participants took part in six weekly sessions of either group reminiscence or a group control activity. A Pretest-Posttest Control design was employed to explore the difference in average change between treatment conditions. The main findings showed no difference in average change between the two groups on measures of identity and well-being. However, the reminiscence group showed a greater overall improvement in memory than the control group. The theoretical implications and future directions for working clinically with cognitively impaired populations are considered.
Doctorate in Clinical and Community Psychology