Lived experiences of maintaining self-identity among persons living with young-onset dementia: A qualitative meta-synthesis

Xueting Tang, Junqiao Wang, Bei Wu, Ann Margaret Navarra, Xiaoyan Cui, Jing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1776-1798
Number of pages23
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Young onset dementia
  • dementia
  • experiences
  • meta-synthesis
  • qualitative
  • self-identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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