To investigate the presence of awareness of changes in relationships domain, and additional subdomains (cognitive, emotional and functional status) in a group of participants with dementia.
Using a qualitative design, 9 participants with mild and moderate dementia attended in a day care center were interviewed. Analyses were implemented throughout the modified version of the Grounded Theory Method.
Some participants well-recognized changes in their relationships, albeit a tendency to immediately deny those changes was observed among them. The participants’ reports showed that the kind of familiar or social relationship might facilitate the expression of awareness. Less discomfort in social interactions with familiars and friends compared to embarrassment with unfamiliar relationships were described. All participants could partially recognize their cognitive deficits, although attempts to normalize their condition and minimize difficulties were identified. Only two participants partially recognized changes in all investigated domains. The other participants partially described changes in two domains beyond the cognitive domain, such as relationships and emotional status or emotional and functional status. However, answers concerning emotional status reflected that some coping styles were not related to a general condition.
The relationship domain may provide a valuable perspective of awareness of disease. People with dementia may feel less embarrassed to recognize deficits in the presence of familiars and friends.