De Beleving Van Beginnende Dementie en Het Gevreesde Lijden
de Boer, M E
Dröes, R M
Eefsting, J A
Hertogh, C M P M
Tijdschrift voor gerontologie en geriatrie 2010 Oct; 41(5): 194-203
This qualitative explorative survey aimed at investigating the personal experiences of elderly people with early-stage dementia with regard to their illness and the extent to which they experience their situation as 'suffering'. In the Netherlands insight in this suffering is relevant with regard to ongoing debate on euthanasia and physician assisted death in early dementia. Participants in the study were 24 elderly (mean age 76.3 years) diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's disease. The semi-structured interviews were transcribed verbatim, and qualitatively analyzed. The elderly were found to be very capable of sharing experiences about their disease. They indicated not to experience their situation 'as a whole' as one of dreadful suffering. The gradual progression, which is distinctive of Alzheimer's disease, also allows people to adapt and adjust to their changing situation. As a result, the actual experiences of the disease can, in a positive manner, deviate from their anticipatory beliefs. The experiences of the participants appeared less negative than the ideas 'healthy' elderly often have about a life with dementia. The results from this study emphasize the importance of listening to the voices of people with dementia. Communication with elderly with Alzheimer's disease, is in the early stages quite possible and essential for advance care planning to be adjusted to their actual wishes and needs.
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