Clothing and Dementia presented by Julia Twigg
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Clothing and Dementia presented by Julia Twigg

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Presentation from the Embodiment & Dementia Conference

Presentation from the Embodiment & Dementia Conference

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Clothing and Dementia presented by Julia Twigg Clothing and Dementia presented by Julia Twigg Presentation Transcript

  • Clothing and Dementia Julia Twigg
    • clothing and dress are relevant to the well being and care of people with dementia
    • raise significant issues in relation to body, identity and self
    • offer routes to access being and selfhood at bodily level
  • Four themes: clothing
    • as embodied selfhood
    • as environment closest in
    • as aspect of social interaction
    • dimension of control and normativity
  • Background study
    • Nuffield funded scoping study to explore issues raised by clothing for frail older people in institutional and supported settings
    • Interviews with key respondents: voluntary sector, regulatory agencies, inspectors and managers of homes, carers of people with dementia
  • Related work
    • ESRC study of clothing and older women
    • British Academy study of consumption patterns on clothing 1960-present
  • The challenge of dementia
    • clothes about expressivity and selfhood
      • require active subjectivity
    • dementia erodes
    • Work in dementia studies on personhood
      • Hughes, Sabat, Kitwood
    • Self in dementia: number of levels including the bodily
    • clothes are more than just how we present ourselves in terms of outward appearance, part of how we enact our being
    • significance of maintaining former modes of dress
  • I: Embodied selfhood
    • Kontos and her account of embodied selfhood
    • Clothes
      • close to body core
      • part of embodiment
      • effect how we sit and move
    • comfort is about more than just looseness or lack of constraint
    • about being at ease as one is socially presented
    • somebody once said - some young thing said - very emphatically, quite aggressively, ‘Well what we insist on these days is comfort’. By which she meant really things not fitting properly, so she could move around. And I thought about this and I thought, […] I’m comfortable sitting like this, conventionally in a chair with a back to it, but once you get people sprawling about in jeans, so then – I mean this skirt isn’t confining, but it sort of encourages you not to sprawl about too much. But once they wear bifurcated garments that encourage sprawling, they do that, and so then you get these sofas that, you know, they’re just sort of splodges that don’t support you And people, sort of, all over the place. And this, they regard as comfort. Well, that’s fine if they’re comfortable, but what they seem unable to grasp is that I, sitting like this, am also perfectly comfortable.[…] Comfort isn’t only physical, it’s being mentally at ease also.
  • II: Environment closest in
    • interest in environment in dementia
    • clothes are environment closest in
    • If you’re losing a lot of cognitive function, your world becomes more sensory and more immediate. And so it’s a way still of knowing, you know, where you end and something else begins, even at that very basic level. And seeing the pleasure that people can get from smoothing down a skirt or folding paper [… ]Knowing how often people pick things up, walk around with them, hold them to themselves. (researcher with background in practice)
    • The feel on the skin, I think, is important. You know people with dementia they might just spend time just doing this [acts smoothing down clothing] or folding their clothes or feeling them, … The look and feel about them is very important. (researcher from CSCI)
    • environment of care: harsh, untactile
    • Easily washable. Yeah….I start to cringe when I think about wearing nylon stuff and sitting on plastic chairs and walking on nylon carpets. And that whole sort of static thing.
    • (researcher with background in practice)
    • I would hate to be like a lot of old ladies who you see sitting in polyester trousers that smell after you’ve had them on after a couple of hours, you know, horrible…. If I had to go into a care home, I certainly wouldn’t want to be sitting in polyester. (service manager and former social worker with older people)
  • III: Social interaction
    • Kitwood and the interactional environment
    • struggle to maintain the person through the fog of the condition
    • I think the worst thing is to see old women sitting in, you know, a care home lounge with their knee-highs all sort of drooping down to their ankles and their crimplene skirts barely reaching their knees and so on, and that is the most degrading (director of charity with background as researcher)
    • clothes as endorsing benign interactions
    • clothing and relatives
  • IV: Control and Normativity
    • Foucault
    • clothes as part of institutional regimes
    • care practices that create standardised bodies
    • tensions around maintaining appearance
      • can be malign
    • imputed wishes
    • clothes as forms of restaint
  • Conclusion
    • dress part of how we perform identities
    • our immediate environment
    • we should not do not overemphasise their significance, but
    • clothing and dress provide a field in which we can explore new concepts of personhood in relation to dementia, and ones that offer insights into forms of response through which the individuality and selfhood of the dementia sufferer can be recognised, enhanced and maintained.