Lectures

“Out of options”: The implications of COVID-19 for hospitalized patients with cognitive impairment

This article is part of the series:

“How about a walk today?” I asked Mr. T each morning I arrived to the hospital, visiting him on my morning rounds. Mr T. grinned back at me from the edge of his bed beneath his bright red veteran’s baseball cap, a sharp contrast to the dull monotone hospital gown. “Oh you betcha, doc,” he smiled. Our daily stroll entailed …

Lectures

Of dogs and their humans: Late life in a more-than-human world of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Sometimes when we go to the park, Bruce – my canine research assistant – and I meet with another more-than-human pair, who join us for a game of fetch. The other pair, both human and dog, are quite old and slow, and pace to each other’s rhythm in a way that only partners who have lived together for a long …

Lectures

A Poetics of Dementia

One rainy morning in November, I called my mother.

“Hi mum, how’re you doing?”
“Well, it isn’t much fun to be sitting here in a chicken run all day long. They’ve even stretched the mesh right along the sideboard.”

I picture my mother, who had been immobile for years, seated in her blue-painted wicker chair next to the window. Within …

Features

Suffering, Agency, and the Value of Early and Late Life

‘Do no harm’ is the first principle in both research ethics and bioethics, conveying an inherent ambiguity in the biomedical imperative to create healthier and longer human lives. As such, both medical intervention and research have always straddled the delicate border between care and violence, exposing how doing good can be easily transformed into or confused with doing harm. This …

Features

Restoring the balance: Living well with pain

Like dementia, persistent pain comes with irreparable losses: physical restrictions, strained relationships, financial problems, perished dreams and ambitions. Both conditions require ethnographers and care professionals to shift focus from cure to care, from treating illnesses to learning how to live with restrictions. The question thus emerges: how do we learn to live with such ‘diseases that do not go away’ …

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Sticky notes

I remember when I was a lot younger and my grandmother was still alive, her flat became increasingly filled with small pieces of paper attached by tape to an apparently random collection of things. On each paper was written the name of the object it was stuck to; ‘toaster’, ‘cooker’, ‘sink’, ‘chair’ and so on. Over time, as she forgot …