Ageing and Society

Research Article

Towards a Theory of Dementia Care: The Interpersonal Process

Tom Kitwooda1

a1 Bradford Dementia Research Group, Department of Interdisciplinary Human Studies, University of Bradford, U.K.


A description of the microstructure of interpersonal processes is developed, based on the analysis of interaction as a succession of reflexive triadic units. This account can be modified in some aspects so as to provide a detailed theory of the process of dementia care. The theory is particularly relevant to moderate and severe dementia, and to formal care settings. A key concept is that of facilitation. The idea of a ‘culture of dementia’ is explored. Cautiously optimistic conclusions are reached about the possibilities for enabling dementia sufferers to remain in a state of relative well-being.