Exploring the influence of psychological and social factors on the lived experience of ageing with coexistent frailty and cognitive impairment


The risk of developing frailty and cognitive impairments increases with age, however there are a variety of factors which may influence the onset, trajectory, or experience of frailty coexistent with cognitive impairment. This PhD aimed to explore the influence which psychological and social factors may have on the lived experience of frailty and cognitive impairment and the possible care needs which older people living with coexistent frailty and cognitive impairment may have.

The project used narrative methods to look at events over the life course which might influence ageing experiences, examining factors of psychological and social nature which influence ageing and the way in which older people cope with decline. Older people and those who provide care and support to older people took part in in-depth interviews across two studies. Reflexive Thematic Analysis was used to identify patterns and themes in the data sets.

Findings from both studies indicate that a range of psychological and social factors, throughout the life course, may influence the experience of ageing. Physical decline associated with ageing was accepted, while memory decline and cognitive impairments were feared by older people. Wealth, social networks and lifelong social resilience were seen to promote coping and the management of age associated decline. Future dependency was a source of apprehension and may require the input of health and social care professionals to support this.

A need to implement preventative measures across the life course is implicated. Professionals across sectors and disciplines require training to manage the varied needs of older people both holistically and in partnership.


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Understanding the needs of people with cognitive and physical frailty

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