Friendships among people with dementia in long-term care

Kate de Medeiros, Pamela A. Saunders, Patrick J. Doyle, Amanda Mosby, Kimberly van Haitsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Despite the growing literature on social interactions in dementia settings, few studies have investigated 'friendships' in people with dementia living in long-term care. 'Social interactions' describe communicating, verbally and/or non-verbally, at least once with another person while 'friendship' suggests a deeper, more meaningful connection that may include reciprocity, intimacy, and shared trust. During a 6-month, mixed-methods study, we investigated friendships among 31 assisted living residents with moderate to advanced dementia. Results revealed no correlation between test scores or demographic characteristics (except gender) and friendship dyads identified by staff. Staffs' perceptions of residents' friendships were not supported through our observations. We did observe friendships among residents characterized by voluntary participation and accommodation in conversation, and recognition of the uniqueness of the other. Findings suggest staff perceptions of residents' friendships are not sufficient and that more research on this topic is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-381
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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