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Social health in dementia care: harnessing an applied research agenda

  • Myrra Vernooij-Dassen (a1), Esme Moniz-Cook (a2) and Yun-Hee Jeon (a3)

Extract

The notion of social health (Huber et al., 2011) as applied to dementia care research was introduced to redress the balance of empirical studies that tended to focus on biomedical, cognitive, and functional status in dementia (Vernooij-Dassen and Jeon, 2016). The introduction of social health has followed the zeitgeist of campaigners for a better life for those living with dementia, with initiatives to improve the social images of dementia (Alzheimers.org, 2017). Examples from social research in dementia to examine friendships and the social environments of people with dementia exist (Medeiros et al., 2012), but introduction of the paradigm of social health in dementia (Vernooij-Dassen and Jeon, 2016) has harnessed a growing research agenda (de Vugt and Dröes, 2017). This paradigm provides an umbrella concept to study how social aspects influence the dynamic balance between opportunities and limitations in dementia. Social health goes beyond the neuropathology of dementia, to understand how people, their social networks and wider society with its norms, interact with the condition (Vernooij-Dassen and Jeon, 2016). It is not far removed from the ideas of Tom Kitwood, the pioneer of person-centered dementia care, who noted that “personhood is a standing or status that is bestowed upon one human being, by others, in the context of relationship and social being” (Kitwood, 1997). The INTERDEM (Early detection and timely INTERvention in DEMentia, www.interdem.org) psychosocial research agenda aspired to improve knowledge about social inclusion and reciprocal relationships for people with dementia (Moniz-Cook et al., 2011). The concept of social health (Vernooij-Dassen and Jeon, 2016) with its dimensions for dementia research (Dröes et al., 2017) has begun to develop this knowledge-base.

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References

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