Perception of dignity in older men and women in the early stages of dementia: a cross-sectional study

Lucie Klůzová Kráčmarová*, Jitka Tomanová, Kristýna A. Černíková, Peter Tavel, Kateřina Langová, Peta Jane Greaves, Helena Kisvetrová

*Corresponding author for this work

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Dementia is a serious problem in old age, that impacts an individual’s ability to function and may threaten personal dignity. Given the variable features of the illness and the diversity of life experiences, many factors may contribute to the perception of dignity by men and women with dementia. The purpose of the study was to explore the factors that contribute to dignity and its domains in men and women with dementia.

This cross-sectional study involved 316 community-dwelling patients with early-stage dementia (aged ≥ 60) (PwD). We assessed the participants’ sociodemographic and social involvement characteristics, health-related variables (pain, depression, physical performance, visual and hearing impairments), attitude to aging, and self-sufficiency in the activities of daily living (ADL). These factors were investigated as independent variables for the perception of dignity and of its domains in men and women.

Multivariate regression analysis showed that PwD experienced minor dignity problems in the early stages of dementia. In both men and women higher rates of depression, negative attitudes to aging, and pain were associated with reductions in the perception of dignity. In men, but not in women visual impairment had a negative effect on overall dignity, and on the associated domains of ‘Loss of Autonomy’ and ‘Loss of Confidence’. In women, lowered self-sufficiency in ADL contributed to reduced self-perception of dignity and in the associated domains of ‘Loss of Purpose of Life’, ‘Loss of Autonomy’, and ‘Loss of Confidence’. Sociodemographic and social involvement characteristics, hearing impairment, and physical performance did not influence the participants’ self-perception of dignity.

The results suggested that several common factors (depression, attitudes to aging, and pain) contribute to the perception of dignity in both men and women. Other factors, visual impairments in men, and self-sufficiency in ADL in women, appear to be more gender specific. These differences might relate to their specific gender roles and experiences. The self-perception of dignity in PwD can be helped by supporting the individual, to the extent that their illness allows, in maintaining activities that are important to their gender roles, and that preserve their gender identity.

Trial registrationNCT04443621.
Original languageEnglish
Article number684
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Early online date18 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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