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Discontinuity in the Subjective Experience of Self among People with Mild-To-Moderate Dementia Is Associated with Poorer Psychological Health: Findings from the IDEAL Cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Linda Clare, Anthony Martyr, Robin G. Morris, Lynette J. Tippett

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
Published1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


The onset and progression of dementia can result in changes in the subjective experience of self, impacting on psychological health. Objective: We aimed to explore the extent to which people with mild-to-moderate dementia experience discontinuity in the subjective experience of self, and the factors associated with this experience for people with dementia and their family caregivers. Methods: We used data from the baseline assessment of the IDEAL cohort. Discontinuity in the subjective experience of self was assessed by asking participants about their agreement with the statement 'I feel I am the same person that I have always been'. Participants were divided into those who did and did not experience discontinuity, and the two groups were compared in terms of demographic and disease-related characteristics, psychological well-being, measures of 'living well', and caregiver stress. Results: Responses to the continuity question were available for 1,465 participants with dementia, of whom 312 (21%) reported experiencing discontinuity. The discontinuity group experienced significantly poorer psychological well-being and had significantly lower scores on measures of 'living well'. There was no clear association with demographic or disease-related characteristics, but some indication of increased caregiver stress. Conclusion: A significant proportion of people with mild-to-moderate dementia describe experiencing discontinuity in the subjective sense of self, and this is associated with poorer psychological health and reduced ability to 'live well' with the condition. Sensitively asking individuals with dementia about the subjective experience of self may offer a simple means of identifying individuals who are at increased risk of poor well-being.

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