Living with Dementia in New Zealand: An Action Research Study

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to undertake a systematic inquiry into the question of how people who live with dementia in the community can be supported to engage in daily activities. It is well known that dementia affects functional abilities yet little research has been done to produce an in-depth description, from people who have dementia and their family/whanau, of the inherent difficulties encountered with functioning on a day to day basis in the community, when living with dementia. In a quest for greater understanding, action research, underpinned by critical hermeneutics, brought together action and reflection, theory and practice to generate knowledge that can be used to further inform action. Described as informed committed action, the aim of action research is to act in the world, to practice and to do rather than simply engage in discourse.

International trends call for inclusion, and research indicates that people with dementia have an important role to play in identifying their own support needs. Consequently, eleven people with mild to moderate dementia and eleven family/whanau members were recruited to engage in dialogue with the researcher, to enter into discourse with each other in focus groups, and to engage in action on their own behalf. Data were gathered by interviews and observations in participants' homes and community settings over four years. Data collection and analysis were reciprocally integrated, and the participants engaged in the production of knowledge. …