Research Project: Approaching Social Death

Challenges in End-of-Life Care of Older Adults with Dementia.

Approaching Social Death -research concentrates on end-of-life of older persons with dementing illnesses residing in nursing homes. According to prior research, these people are in danger of dying socially far before their last breath. Social death occurs when a person is left out of interaction and is perceived to be “as good as dead” while still being alive. Dementing illnesses tend to push people outside communication at some stage of the progressive disease and thus increase the risk of social death. Since dying from dementia is a social process as much as it is a physiological one, we need to better picture the process to improve quality of life of these people at the very end of it.

In this research, social death is studied within an ethnographical research frame. Researchers will conduct participant observations in a big nursing home, interview people (residents, their family members, nursing staff), conduct artistic research and create an audio documentary, and execute different types of artistic workshops with mentioned parties. Therefore a vast amount of qualitative data will be collected to understand the circumstances of death of people with dementing illnesses as well as values and perceptions behind the circumstances.


Jari Pirhonen

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