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The final station

The sun wakes her up. But Mrs Wijngaard keeps her eyes closed. She is 90 years old and sits quietly in her armchair in her apartment in the nursing home. And lets her thoughts wander. For three months she has been living here now, in an apartment with a living room, one bedroom, private bathroom and a kitchen corner. She …

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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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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 …

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The fool with the watering can, or asynchronous time travelling

One of the most bewildering and fascinating things about spending time with people with dementia is that they can rapidly travel through time. This was most clear with Mrs B., a daydreaming woman of 86. Her skin was deeply wrinkled and in the nursing home she kept pretty much to herself. One day, I had a long, stretched out conversation …

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Six photos of my father at 91

I have chosen to tell a story based on six photographs I took of my father, Ivio Duranti (1918-2009) in the last year of his life. He was never diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease, but he definitely had some of the symptoms of dementia, including memory loss, disorientation, apathy, reduced speech production, and occasional hallucinations, even though he seemed able …

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“I do want euthanasia, but not now.” Timing a request for euthanasia with dementia in the Netherlands

Sitting on orange seats in the corridor, Ms Verbeek, her niece Hannie and I are waiting for the general practitioner. Ms Verbeek seems a little restless and is quiet. She is 79 years old and lives by herself in a small town in the south of the Netherlands. We have met several times before, sometimes one on one, and sometimes …