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Continuing to Participate in the Dance of Life as Oneself: The Lived Experience of Meaning in Life for Older Adults With Alzheimer's Disease

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Meaning in life is an important aspect of positive psychological functioning for older adults. Limited work suggests the relevance of the experience of meaning for people with dementia, but research into this experience from their personal perspective is lacking. The current study provides an in-depth investigation of the lived experience of meaning in life for older adults with Alzheimer's disease. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: The study was conducted following the phenomenological reflective lifeworld approach. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 older adults (+65) with Alzheimer's disease living either at home or in a nursing home in Belgium. Data analysis was an iterative process aimed at illuminating the constituents and essence of the phenomenon. RESULTS: The essence of the experience of meaning in life for participants was understood as "continuing to participate in the dance of life as oneself." This experience was further clarified in four closely intertwined constituents: (a) feeling connected and involved, (b) continuing everyday life as oneself, (c) calmly surrendering and letting go, and (d) desiring freedom, growth, and invigoration. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of meaning in life as experienced by older adults with Alzheimer's disease themselves. They emphasize the relevance of the concept for psychological dementia research and offer original insight for the inclusion of meaning in life as an important aspect of holistic dementia care.
Tijdschrift: Gerontologist
ISSN: 0016-9013
Issue: 7
Volume: 61
Pagina's: 1019 - 1029
Jaar van publicatie:2021