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A Cultural Response to Dementia: Moving Beyond the Wellbeing Agenda

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Abstract

This chapter sets out the need for a cultural response to dementia. It explores how arts practices in dementia care have been shaped by a wellbeing agenda in which the value of a project is often appraised against measurable outcomes. It argues that wellbeing is inappropriate concept for people with dementia, because of its associations with idealised forms of citizenship, which they do not conform to. It considers how memory and selfhood are culturally ingrained in the West, and how dementia is in part socially constructed by fears about ageing and decline. It argues that the arts have the capacity to respond to these fears on a cultural level by supporting concepts of selfhood which are based on interdependence and relationality, rather than independence and autonomy.

Keywords

  • Cultural response
  • Wellbeing
  • Selfhood
  • Reciprocity
  • Dis/humanism

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-51077-0_2
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Key studies include Castora-Binkley et al. (2010) who investigate the impact of the arts on a variety of health outcomes, Camic et al. (2011) who explore the benefits of singing, and ‘Dementia and Imagination’, an AHRC-funded research project which explores whether the arts can improve the wellbeing of those living with dementia (dementiaandimagination.org.uk n.d.).

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Hatton, N. (2021). A Cultural Response to Dementia: Moving Beyond the Wellbeing Agenda. In: Performance and Dementia. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-51077-0_2

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