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Research Co-authored by Shapiro, Gray, Taylor, and Freitag Discusses Expanding the Ethnographic Toolkit to Include Kinless Older Adults Living with Dementia

Posted: 2/8/2024 (CSDE Research)

CSDE Affiliates Dr. Marlaine Figueroa Gray (Anthropology, UW), Dr. Janelle Taylor (Anthropology, University of Toronto), and CSDE Trainee Callie Freitag (Public Policy & Governance, UW) authored new research in the Journal of Aging Studies, titled “Expanding the ethnographic toolkit: Using medical documents to include kinless older adults living with dementia in qualitative research“. The article was lead-authored by Dr. Lily Shapiro (Anthropology, UW). Ethnographic research often excludes cognitively impaired older adults without close kin, in part because cognitive impairment raises questions about the ability to provide informed consent. This study used data from a longitudinal study to qualitatively examine the experience of people without close kin at dementia onset. Authors detail their methodology and discuss its limitations and potential. In conclusion, they argue that collaborative interdisciplinary research using existing, longitudinal research data and text from medical records deserves to be considered as a potentially useful addition to the ethnographic toolkit. This article is one of several from this study which sought to examine the circumstances and needs of older adults who participated in the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. The study was supported by a grant through the National Institute on Aging (NIA) (Grant no. R21AG058056-01), administered through CSDE.


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