Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec, Ph.D., LICSW


Social Work


To date, few studies have explored the subjective experience of identity and personhood in individuals with dementia, particularly among those living in long-term care facilities. As the population in the United States continues to age and dementia becomes more prevalent, the need to understand the experiences of persons with dementia will only increase. This paper used Noblit and Hare’s (1988) meta-ethnography to synthesize existing qualitative research on the experience of personhood in dementia in long-term care. Seven studies representing a variety of professional disciplines, qualitative methodologies, and geographic locales were included. A first level of synthesis identified four major themes relating to personhood in dementia: personhood in their world, personhood and maintaining human connection, expressing the distinctiveness of personhood, and personhood and the role required in this place. A second level of synthesis linked these four themes within an integrative framework. This framework describes the experience of personhood in dementia as one of adjustment, characterized by both reconciliation and disconnect between past and present selves. The findings of this study suggest that the narrative of loss of personhood in dementia be challenged and that both the past and present identities of persons with dementia be honored and embraced.

Included in

Social Work Commons