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Thinking pain

Care worker Annika announces that she does not want to go to Mr Moran. “He always complains.” “I’ll go”, says her colleague Robin, and turning to me he says, “I don’t have the intern today so you can come along if you want to see for yourself how it goes”. We head off to assemble the materials for the morning …

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Opening up shrinking life-worlds

Lives change dramatically as dementia progresses. Using observations of people suffering from obsessions and compulsions, I will analyse this change along three dimensions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by intrusive anxiety-provoking thoughts (obsessions) and rituals aimed at reducing anxiety, which then paradoxically come to exacerbate it (compulsions). I have been studying clinicians working with people who suffer from a severe, …

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The House

The question of how Willem was coping, alone in the big house, had come to concern many of those surrounding him. Over the past couple of months, Willem had been tired, and was showing up at the drop-in centre less and less. His daughter had called on others to help him to prepare warm meals. He himself talked of his …

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Burning down the house: When crisis becomes daily life in early-onset dementia

For my doctoral research, I interviewed family members living with a loved one with early-onset dementia, a diagnosis that one receives under the age of 65. Jans, not his real name, was the fourth person I interviewed in April 2015. Since he lived in a remote village in the east of the Netherlands, we met at a train station to …

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George, the dog

Babe, my grandpa, was born on the kitchen tiles of a small Seattle home. His dad, whose own grandpa had run a seedy downtown brothel, would disappear and reappear throughout his life. But Babe was not like the men who came before him. He spent his youth delivering newspapers and parking cars to support his mother, went to war when …

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Strangers in unfamiliar environments: Struggles for subjectivity in a dementia care ward

During fieldwork on dementia care in a nursing home, I was struck by the complex and layered orderings of space, time and subjectivity in daily life on the wards, and the struggle this implied for people with dementia.

On her ‘daily rounds’ strolling through the nursing home ward, Mrs Hansen repeatedly expressed great relief and pleasure on meeting a familiar …