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Recognition of preclinical signs of dementia: A qualitative study exploring the experiences of family carers and professional care assistants

Aims and objectives: To identify preclinical signs of dementia by exploring the experiences of family caregivers and professional care assistants. Background: Dementia results in disability, emotional strain and financial loss for people with dementia, family members and nations. Informal identification of social and behavioural risk signifiers could facilitate timely interventions with potential to delay onset of serious disability. Design: A retrospective qualitative approach using a naturalistic interpretive design was used. Focus groups enabled in‐depth understanding of the participants’ experiences of life or work with people who subsequently developed dementia. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit family carers and professional carers who had cared for people who later developed dementia. The data from focus groups were fully transcribed and anonymised, and transcripts were analysed by two researchers. These researchers coded and analysed the transcripts independently; subsequently, overlapping and similar themes were identified and consensus reached on final themes. A third researcher was invited to review the analysis and ensure trustworthiness of the study findings. Results: Findings revealed that preclinical signs of dementia were identifiable in retrospect Participants’ accounts resulted in four themes, “Lowered Threshold of Frustration”, “Insight and Coping Strategies,” “Early signs of poor memory” and “Alarming Events.” Conclusions: Earlier recognition of preclinical signs of dementia would allow affected individuals to follow health promotion advice and plan for the future. Identification of social exclusion prior to diagnosis has implications for antistigma campaigns and development of “dementia‐friendly communities.” Relevance to clinical practice: Healthcare professionals could work with those at risk, facilitating lifestyle changes to postpone symptoms and advance planning for improved autonomy. Predementia should be viewed as a disability for which reasonable adjustments can be made at a community level, to enhance and extend emotional well‐being and social inclusion. [

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Wiley-blackwell
ISBN/ISSN
09621067
Publication Year
2018
Issue Number
9/10
Journal Titles
Journal of Clinical Nursing
Volume Number
27
Start Page
1931
End Page
1940