Couples' experiences of early-stage dementia and of attending a memory rehabilitation group

2014-12-15T10:46:09Z (GMT) by Emma Jane Dale
A review of psychological interventions in early-stage dementia raised the following points. Individually tailored cognitive rehabilitation was effective for specific everyday memory problems. Supportive group psychotherapy had the most impact on emotional adjustment and mood. The evidence base for individual psychotherapy was poor. Finally, there were a number of group interventions that provided a mixed of psychoeducation and peer support in order to enhance coping with some also focussing on memory rehabilitation strategies. There was some evidence that such groups could have a protective effect on mood. The research adopted a qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews to gather the lived experience of four couples who had attended a memory rehabilitation group. The resulting transcripts were analysed using Grounded Theory. The participants outlined how they were coping with early-stage dementia. A key concept was that during their life together the couples had developed a shared memory, which was also affected by the onset of dementia. Thus the changes in the memory of the person with dementia had an emotional and social impact on both the individual and the couple. In response, the couple had the dual task of emotionally adjusting to the changes whilst preserving the shared memory as best they could. The couples were supported in this task by friends, family and services. In particular, the memory rehabilitation group provided the opportunity to develop memory preservation strategies whilst facilitating emotional adjustment, which could explain the protective effect on mood reported in previous studies.

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