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People with Dementia as Witnesses to Emotional Events

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2011
30 pages
In order to determine whether people with dementia (ages 55 and older) can provide reliable evidence as witnesses to emotional events, this study conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 95 people with dementia and a control group of 50 older adults, eliciting memories of recent autobiographical events with both positive and negative emotional content.
Elderly persons with dementia are often the only witnesses to crimes against them, such as physical or financial elder abuse, yet they are disparaged and discounted as unreliable. Clinical experience with this population indicates that significant emotional experiences may be salient to people with dementia, and that certain behaviors and characteristics enhance their credibility as historians. This is the first systematic research to identify people with dementia with reliable emotional memory and their characteristics.

Date Published: April 1, 2011