chapter  17
16 Pages

Cultural dimensions of dementia and care-giving

Critical dementia research has covered significant ground over the last decade. Early concerns over the subjectivity of the dementia 'sufferer' were initially displaced by care-giver stress as a research priority but the sufferer seems to have again regained middle field but from a different perspective. Previous Alzheimer's constructs revolved around cognitive function as a central and defining characteristic of the self that is especially vulnerable to attack by the disease. More current models are considering self as distinct from cognitive function. Self is increasingly considered in relational terms, or in terms of social and inter-subjective processes which impact on preservation or dissolution of the self (Herskovits, 1995). Research has come to view demented persons not as a fixed biomedical reality, but as social actors who live with impairment and interact with others in care-giving relationships in part of the sociocultural world of the dementing and their care-givers. Reflecting in this change is an expansion in considerations of subjectivity such as 'incommunicables' (Gubrium, 1986), multiple definitions of self and indeed multiple selves (Young, 1990).