Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft, Ph.D., LISW


Social Work


Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease occurs at a fairly young age and causes a life altering shift after being diagnosed. Helping persons diagnosed live to their fullest potential at all stages of the disease is a relevant and meaningful goal for social work. The purpose of this systematic literature review was to synthesize the current research on how interventions, therapies, and practices address the different levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for individuals living with younger/early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. A systematic literature review design was used and the level of publication was limited to peer-reviewed English language academic articles within the time frame of 1990-2013. The electronic databases searched included Social Work Abstracts, SocIndex, and PsychINFO. Gray literature was also searched for the most up-to-date information. The inclusion terms used for this research were “early onset” or “younger-onset,” Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, dementia, patient, and quality of life. The exclusion terms were also applied. The systematic literature review was organized around the conceptual framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which include the five levels of: physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. The findings indicated that there is a lack of specific research regarding the needs of persons with younger/early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The hierarchy of needs that received the most attention in the literature was biological and physiological and love and belongingness need. The areas that received the least amount of attention were esteem needs, self-actualization need, and safety needs. Findings shown that when using Maslow’s Hierarchy it is best to adjust it in order to fit the each individual’s needs. For instance when using it for an individual with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease it would fit their disease process better to address the needs in reverse order starting with the self-actualization need. Future research suggests there needs to be more research, services, and resources on person-centered care for those with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and given more recognition in order to better help this group of individuals.

Included in

Social Work Commons