“Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 60. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease“ (National Institute on Aging, 2012). Given that more and more elderly are choosing to live alone, it is imperative, that psychologists and medical providers understand the experience of Alzheimer’s who live by themselves so that better care and intervention can be provided. De Witt (2010) performed a landmark study which examined older women living alone with Alzheimer’s. The purpose of this paper is to summarize their study and provide applications of this information to the medical and psychological field.
In this study DeWitt (2010) was interested to know what living alone meant from the perspective of older people with Alzheimer disease or related dementia. Focusing on the meaning of time, 14 Women over the age of 55, from Ontario Canada were interviewed. During phone interviews the women needed to meet six qualifications in order to participate. The qualifications were: They had to be diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease or related dementia, Had discussed the diagnosis with their physician, lived alone in the community, spent the night alone, were able to speak English, and were 55 years of age or older (DE WITT ET. AL, 2010). The interviews took place from January 2004 to April 2005; these women were located through community health and social service agencies.
They found that there was more anxiety around their sense of time. The women struggled with the idea of being a burden or too much trouble for their families, having a hard time doing the small day to day things that used to come natural to them, some would even rather be dead than alive. “ I hope I die before I give anybody too much trouble..hope that God will take you...and without too much sickness” Nurses and advocacy for health/social services are able to see the potential emotional impact of mixing people with varied levels of dementia in the same program. (DE WITT ET. AL, 2010).
In the study DeWitt (2010) had a few areas that were limited. They ended up recruiting eight white women of European decent that were English speaking. While the study focused on women; ethnicity was not considered. Women of different ethnic background could require different treatments, have different life experiences, and change the response to the study. Of the eight women they were all once married and lived with another adult, lacking a truly single woman that always lived alone. The women also all received assistance from their adult