Stories of people with dementia who experience word-finding difficulties.

Prof Doc Thesis

O'Connor, K. 2023. Stories of people with dementia who experience word-finding difficulties. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsO'Connor, K.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Much research on word-finding difficulties (WFDs) in dementia focuses on quantifying cognitive and linguistic deficits, rather than exploring the ways in which people living with dementia (PLWD) use their existing cognitive and linguistic resources to communicate and share their stories. In addition, little research has focused on exploring the use of non-verbal communication (NVC) and how this is performed through storytelling.

The current research aimed to elicit narratives of PLWD and WFDs. Accounts were elicited from three one-to-one interviews which took place in a community setting. These interviews were videorecorded to explore the use of NVC of both the person living with dementia and the researcher. Narrative analysis of the interviews explored the key narratives told by the participants, and the interactional context between the participant and the researcher within the wider socio-political contexts. In addition, NVC has also been interpreted to demonstrate the ways in which this is used as a resource in storytelling.

By attending to NVC, it was found that even in silences and manifestations of WFDs participants expressed themselves in a multitude of ways which complemented storytelling, showing the capacity to be humorous, engaging, expressive, and moving, even in the absence of words. In privileging the stories of PLWD and WFDs, it was found that the use of NVC is used resourcefully to affirm their identities and personhood despite threats against these. However, participants did story that experiencing WFDs did lead to frustration, anger, shame, and feelings of dismissal from others.

The findings and implications of this study are then discussed, considering their relationship to wider discourses. Findings indicate possibilities for future research and professional practice. The stories presented here may provide ideas for how Clinical Psychologists can improve access to our services at all stages of the dementia journey and promote personhood irrespective of the cognitive and linguistic difficulties experienced by those living with dementia.

Keywordsdementia; word-finding difficulties; narrative analysis; stories
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Online10 Jan 2024
Publication process dates
Completed04 Dec 2023
Deposited10 Jan 2024
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author
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