Background: People living with dementia face a constant struggle in re-establishing their means of living a meaningful life. Journal writing exhibits the potential to help them regain a sense of control over their lives. This study explores the experience, meaning, and value of journal writing for people living with dementia who autonomously engage in the activity. Methods: We conducted individual, semi-structured interviews with eight people living with dementia who each kept a personal, paper-based daily journal. The interviews were thematically analyzed. Results: We identified four main themes. Theme 1. Recognition of the harsh reality of life under dementia. Theme 2. Observation of and compensation for weaknesses. Theme 3. Reacknowledgement and reaffirmation of one's identity, and Theme 4. Resignation and regret over comparisons to one's ‘former’ self. Themes 2 and 3 suggest that journal writing enabled self-reflection on daily activity functions and sense of self. However, Theme 4 represents the downside where an individual more acutely realises their deteriorating condition and regrets over their perceived loss of self. Conclusion: While acknowledging the possible adverse effect of amplifying pessimistic perceptions toward life, journal writing is a powerful ‘self-help’ strategy for people living with dementia and provides an avenue to recover and thrive.
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