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Unmentioned and unmentionable: how families make sense of a diagnosis of dementia

Lookup NU author(s): Claire BamfordORCiD, Professor Katie Brittain, Professor John Bond, Professor Martin Eccles, Professor Dame Louise Robinson


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Existing studies have focused on the role of professionals in disclosing a diagnosis of dementia. Research suggests that many carers find it difficult to discuss the illness with the person with dementia. Using secondary analysis of interviews with 17 people with dementia and 22 family carers, this paper explores how families make sense of a diagnosis of dementia. The data indicate wide variability, with dementia being accepted as a ‘normal’ topic of conversation in some families, but being unmentioned and unmentionable in others. Three key themes emerged from the data: the exclusion of the person with dementia from key conversations; the projection of thoughts and feelings onto the person with dementia; and the avoidance of opportunities to explore the diagnosis. The findings highlight the limited opportunities for many peoplewith dementia to share their thoughts and fears. Interventions are needed to support people with dementia and families after disclosure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bamford C, Brittain K, Bond J, Eccles M, Robinson L

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 62nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America

Year of Conference: 2009

Pages: 364

ISSN: 0016-9013

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnp147

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item