Maintaining social connections in dementia: A qualitative synthesis

Linda Birt, Rebecca Griffths, Georgina Charlesworth, Paul Higgs, Martin Orrell, Phuong Leung, Fiona Poland

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23 Citations (Scopus)
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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-42
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number1
Early online date25 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Agency
  • Dementia
  • stigma
  • social construction
  • self
  • Goffman
  • Sabat

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