People With Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease as Mentors: Developing a Truly Collaborative Research Process

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Alzheimer's Care Today

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Mentoring can take many shapes and forms. However, rarely in the research arena is the participant of a study ever considered as being a mentor, a person capable of providing advice and guidance, and certainly not a participant who has a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Because of the progressive debilitating nature of the condition and the resulting stigmatization and marginalization of the person, someone with AD is not often thought of in the role of a mentor. Yet, this article focuses on such a mentoring relationship, which developed by happenstance, in the process of doing research on and with people with early stage AD. It discusses how the relationship enhanced the research process and provides some results of a qualitative study that used this approach. It concludes with lessons learned that could be translated into guidelines for research interview protocols that embrace the philosophy that people with AD can be mentors.