Evid Based Nurs 6:64 doi:10.1136/ebn.6.2.64
  • Qualitative

Learning to live with early stage dementia involved a continuous process of adjustment that comprised 5 stages

 QUESTION: How do older adults learn to live with early stage dementia?


Grounded theory.


Saskatchewan, Canada.


3 women and 3 men (age range 61–79 y) with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related disorder and early stage dementia. All participants lived at home with their spouses.


Each person participated in 2 semistructured interviews. Transcripts from the first interviews were analysed using constant comparison, and 5 preliminary categories were identified. During second interviews (1–3 mo later) the author validated and expanded on these 5 categories.

Main findings

A theoretical framework outlined the continuous process of adjusting to early stage dementia, which comprised 5 stages: antecedents, anticipation, appearance, assimilation, and acceptance. Different levels of awareness connected the stages. As participants moved through the stages, their awareness shifted from highly introspective to more outwardly focussed.

(1) Antecedents included subprocesses that made it difficult to obtain a diagnosis of dementia. Recognising that a problem exists: most participants were initially unaware of …

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