Resilience in older people living with dementia – A narrative analysis
Dementia, Ahead of Print.
Dominant discourses surrounding dementia tend to focus on narratives of loss and decline. Simultaneously, individuals living with dementia are vulnerable to being dispossessed of personal narratives supportive of identity and well-being. How older people with dementia story their experiences of resilience in this context has not previously been investigated. In response, this qualitative study utilised a narrative approach to understand lived experiences of resilience shared by eight older people living with dementia. Structural analyses indicated that participants’ personal narratives regarding resilience in living with dementia contained distinct and common phases (The Diagnosis, Initial Tasks, ‘The High Point’, Reflecting on Limitations and Focusing on Today) as well as a variety of dynamic characters. Overarching themes within participants’ narratives included sense of self/identity, being connected to others, sense of agency and having positive attitudes. Participants narrated richer, more active personal stories than those typically represented in dominant social discourses surrounding dementia. As such, their narratives depict lived experiences of resilience that unfolded over time in response to adversity and uncertainty and involved a dialectical process in relation to adjustment and well-being. The findings have important implications for the way resilience in living with dementia is framed and supported.