The "not yet" horizon: Understandings of the future amongst couples living with dementia

Dementia (London). 2016 Nov;15(6):1562-1585. doi: 10.1177/1471301214565673. Epub 2014 Dec 29.


The way in which persons with dementia and their spouses regard the future could influence how they experience the disease itself. This study aims to explore how the future is understood by couples living with dementia. The analysis reveals different ways in which couples understand the future. The findings show that persons with dementia describe the here and now in ways that take the gloomy future they dread as a point of reference, and as a result of this, they operate in what we term "the not yet horizon". But while they take for granted that there is a horizon that they have not yet reached, their spouses always seem to focus on the horizons that they have already crossed. The article discusses the findings in relation to ideas such as critical periods, existential coordinates and possible selves, and problematizes the implicit assumptions about the future that dementia researchers tend to operate from.

Keywords: couplehood; dementia; future; marital relationships; qualitative methods.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Time Factors