“She starts to be her old self again”: familial reflections on pre- and post-onset identity in people with Alzheimer’s and behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia

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Sophia A. Harris University of New South Wales, Australia

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Amee Baird Newcastle Neuropsychology, Australia

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Celia B. Harris Western Sydney University, Australia

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We investigated perceptions of identity in Alzheimer’s disease and behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia. We asked family members of people with dementia to describe them before and after onset of the disease, comparing across type (Alzheimer’s disease versus behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia) and time period. Family members’ perceptions of people with dementia changed over time. Compared with Alzheimer’s disease, behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia was perceived to cause greater disruption to identity and more often associated with negative moral traits. We found a relationship between assessments of moral character and perceived self-continuity. Our data revealed different ways family members navigate stability and change in the identity of their loved ones with dementia.

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Sophia A. Harris University of New South Wales, Australia

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Amee Baird Newcastle Neuropsychology, Australia

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Celia B. Harris Western Sydney University, Australia

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