How do people in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease see their future?

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Abstract

Older people fear Alzheimer’s disease. Central to the fear of the disease is the dread of the loss of identity or self. The aim of this study is to investigate the thoughts people in an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease have about their future selves, and the consequences these thoughts have for their temporary lives. The concepts of future and self are understood in terms of the concepts ‘possible selves’ and ‘selfhood’. The participants in the study are two men in their early 60 s. The data consist of four individual interviews and 11 facilitated family conversations including two of their next of kin. The data were collected over a two-year period. The data were interpreted using a hermeneutic analysis inspired by Gadamer. The main findings were the efforts made by the participants to live in the present and their worries about a future as ‘living dead’.

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