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Towards improving resilience outcomes for people with dementia

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Dementia describes a range of progressive neurological disorders or conditions affecting the brain. The result is marked loss of memory, cognitive ability, communication, mood and movement over the course of the disease. One in 14 people over 65 will develop dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80 having a dramatic change on their life leaving them to deal psychologically with the consequences of the disease on their everyday lives. Therefore, psychological outcomes in dementia represent an important issue for many older people.

There is a literature concerning how resilience factors contribute to coping with dementia; however, definitions of resilience tend to be ubiquitous and ambiguous, therefore making them difficult to translate into accurate resilience-building programmes. Recent research at the University of Leicester has address this problem, demonstrating that resilience models can not only be simplified into core resilience systems (engineering, ecological and adaptive capacity), but can be targeted to promote well-being within specific life domains; i.e. maintaining everyday wellbeing (engineering), sustaining life goals (ecological), and prevent individuals from reaching crisis states (adaptive capacity) (Maltby et al., 2015; 2018). The purpose of the research is to consider the psychological effects of dementia in terms of the relationship with resilience systems.

Determining the effects of dementia in terms of resilience factors will provide a more accurate understanding of the effects of dementia and its progression on wellbeing and functioning in older age. The work will have three themes; (i) development of resilience measures specific to dementia, (ii) the examination of how resilience in dementia maps onto several indices of well-being, cognitive and communication performance, and (iii) identification strategies used by ‘resilient’ individuals that promote resilience; and those used by ‘non-resilient’ individuals that signal those possibly at risk.

Our study will represent research that seeks to benefit the health and wellbeing of older people with dementia and provide an important knowledge base for understanding: (1) the effects of dementia with a focus on resilience factors, and (2) how to implement effective interventions to improve psychological outcomes for older people with dementia.

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