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Enjoyable, engaging and individualised: a concept analysis of meaningful activity for older adults with dementia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 11:16 authored by Laura Tierney, Beattie, E
Aim: The term "meaningful activity" is widely used in policy, practice and the research literature. However, definition and use of the term is unclear and inconsistent. A concept analysis was conducted to explore the fundamental attributes that make an activity meaningful for older adults with dementia and propose a conceptual model for understanding "meaningful activity" in this population.

Methods: This study followed Walker and Avant's method of concept analysis. Searches were conducted in the Scopus, MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, Academic Search Elite and Web of Science databases for literature using the term "meaningful activity." Papers published before 1996 were excluded.

Results: Twenty-nine papers concerned with "meaningful activity" were analysed. This analysis identified five attributes that make activities meaningful for people with dementia: (a) enjoyable; (b) suited to the individual's skills, abilities and preferences; (c) related to personally relevant goals; (d) engaging; and (e) related to an aspect of identity. The conceptual model illustrates how individual and opportunity factors influence participation in "meaningful activity" and the consequences of this participation as discussed in the existing literature.

Conclusion: The findings of this concept analysis provide insight into what characteristics make an activity meaningful. Specific activities that are meaningful are different for each person and participation in personally 'meaningful activities' has the potential to positively impact the lives of people with dementia.

Implications For Practice: This understanding of 'meaningful activity' can be used by those involved in research, planning or delivery of services and care for people with dementia to encourage and support participation in activities that are meaningful to individuals.


Publication title

International Journal of Older People Nursing



Article number









Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives


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