National Nursing Week: Dementia from a younger person’s perspective

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National Nursing Week in Canada, May 7–13, 2018, is a great time to celebrate the contributions graduates of AU’s Faculty of Health Disciplines are making to nursing knowledge and practice across the country and beyond. Mariko Sakamoto is one example of the exemplary work being done by FHD nursing students. We’re proud to say that she caught the world’s attention with her award-winning thesis. #YesThisIsNursing #NationalNursingWeek

Praise for Mariko Sakamoto’s thesis

Mariko Sakamoto has been a nurse for a long time, and always wants to know more in order to be able to do more to assist patients. She graduated from AU’s Master of Nursing program in 2016, and, as part of her studies, explored how younger people living with dementia felt about having an illness typically associated with the elderly. She believed this knowledge would help inform nursing practice — and her thesis, “Perceptions of Personhood and the Early Onset Dementia Experience,” earned international praise.

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Sakamoto received the prestigious 2015 International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM) Master’s Level Dissertation Award, the group’s top prize, selected from among 14 submissions received from around the world. She travelled to Glasgow, Scotland, in May 2016 to accept the award and present her research.

Beginning her thesis, Sakamoto expected that young people would see having the illness differently than those who were older. “But I learned their feelings are aligned with what a person of any age might experience,” she says. “There was more stigma, however, and that reinforced that it can be more difficult for a young person to have dementia.”

In May 2017, Sakamoto’s thesis was the basis for an article in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, which she authored along with Dr’s. Sharon Moore and Steven Johnson, the Faculty of Health Disciplines faculty who were the co-supervisors of her thesis.

Sakamoto continues to expand her learning and is currently working on her PhD at the University of British Columbia.

Learn more about AU’s baccalaureate, master’s, and certificate nursing programs, and professional development opportunities for nurses on the Faculty of Health Disciplines website.