Accepted Paper:

Networks of memory as caring devices for people with dementia  


Lorena Ruiz (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Paper long abstract:

When thinking about care relationships in the context of dementia, we tend to assume that it is the caregiver who possesses memory, while lack of memory is ascribed only to the person with dementia. However, there are certain situations in which the caregivers do not have memories of the person for whom they provide care or do not have direct knowledge of the person's past history (as, for example, a paid caregiver in the context of either homecare or institutional care). This paper considers one such situation, tracking the movement of stories about people with dementia that takes place in an adult day care center located in Spain. These stories navigate the sometimes conflicting present and past of the person with dementia, and are told by the different actors involved in the center, both human and non-human: family members, nurses' aides, physicians, the person with dementia herself, photos, brain scans, personal objects. By analyzing how these stories move and what they (are meant to) do, I argue that they provide the foundation for a caring community, connecting formal and informal carers, engaging people with dementia and influencing the care practices enacted throughout the center. I draw on this ethnographic research to explore how the assemblage of these stories, together with other elements, is embedded in networks of memory that hold the different actors involved in the caring process together, allowing them to adapt their interventions to the particular situation of people with dementia.

Panel E1
Technological innovations in caring communities: New solidarities