Background: The self-identity of persons with young-onset dementia (YOD) is affected by the disease progression. However, the lived experience of maintaining self-identity along the disease trajectory is understudied. This meta-synthesis integrated qualitative data on the challenges, coping strategies, and needs of persons living with YOD and how their experiences affected their self-identity over time. Methods: Four English (PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, PsycINFO) and two Chinese (CNKI and Wanfang) electronic databases were searched for published literature peer-reviewed from the time of database inception to 2022. We used thematic analysis to extract and synthesize data from the literature concerning the long-term lived experiences of persons living with YOD. Results: A total of five peer-reviewed publications were eligible for inclusion in this meta-synthesis study. We identified four themes: (1) declining cognitive function and a prolonged diagnostic process threaten the self-identity of persons living with YOD, (2) struggling to accept the diagnosis of YOD and maintain self-identity, (3) maintaining self-identity and the normalcy of life through social support and person-centered care, and (4) living with YOD through self-development and self-identity reshaping at a later stage of the disease. Conclusions: Persons living with YOD experience challenges maintaining their self-identity throughout the disease trajectory. These challenges are affected by their cognitive function, experiences of personal and social stigma associated with the disease, perceived social support, and person-centered care. Study findings have implications for developing tailored supportive programs for persons living with YOD at various stages of the disease trajectory.
- Young onset dementia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences(all)