Women with dementia and their handbags: negotiating identity, privacy and ‘home’ through material culture

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JournalJournal of Aging Studies
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Mar 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 1 Apr 2014
Volume30
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)14-22
Early online date1/04/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The article analyses the role of handbags in the everyday lives of women with dementia. Drawing on findings from an ESRC funded UK study ‘Dementia and Dress’, it shows how handbags are significant to supporting the identities of women with dementia as ‘biographical’ and ‘memory’ objects, both in terms of the bags themselves, and the objects they contain. This is particularly so during the transition to care homes, where previous aspects of identity and social roles may be lost. Handbags are also significant to making personal or private space within care settings. However, dementia can heighten women's ambivalent relationship to their handbags, which can become a source of anxiety as ‘lost objects’, or may be viewed as problematic or ‘unruly’. Handbags may also be adapted or discarded due to changing bodies, lifestyles and the progression of dementia.

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