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Materialising memories: exploring the stories of people with dementia through dress

Buse, Christina E., Twigg, Julia (2016) Materialising memories: exploring the stories of people with dementia through dress. Ageing & Society, 36 (6). pp. 1115-1135. ISSN 0144-686X. E-ISSN 1469-1779. (doi:10.1017/S0144686X15000185) (KAR id:49102)


In this article, we use clothes as a tool for exploring the life stories and narratives of people with dementia, eliciting memories through the sensory and material dimensions of dress. The article draws on an Economic and Social Research Councilfunded study, ‘Dementia and Dress’, which explored everyday experiences of clothing for carers, care workers and people with dementia, using qualitative and ethnographic methods including: ‘wardrobe interviews’, observations, and visual and sensory approaches. In our analysis, we use three dimensions of dress as a device for exploring the experiences of people with dementia: kept clothes, as a way of retaining connections to memories and identity; discarded clothes, and their implications for understanding change and loss in relation to the ‘dementia journey’; and absent clothes, invoked through the sensory imagination, recalling images of former selves, and carrying identity forward into the context of care. The article contributes to understandings of narrative, identity and dementia, drawing attention to the potential ofmaterial objects for evoking narratives, and maintaining biographical continuity for both men and women. The paper has larger implications for understandings of ageing and care practice; as well as contributing to the wider Material Turn in gerontology, showing how cultural analyses can be applied even to frail older groups who are often excluded from such approaches.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0144686X15000185
Uncontrolled keywords: narratives, dementia, clothing, material culture, objects, dress, biographies
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Julia Twigg
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2015 11:02 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2021 13:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Twigg, Julia.

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