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Researching Old Age


Fri 28. 8.  14:00 - 15:30
room FA 204

Dementia and the moral order


Gjernes, Trude
Nordland University, Norway

Dementia and the moral order Dementia is a neurobiological condition with various social and behavioral consequences. Neurological progress of dementia leads under certain circumstances to social and cultural challenges. The aim of the paper is to study and discuss how institutions try to control the social and cultural manners of persons with bodily and biological restrictions because of dementia. People diagnosed with dementia are often inmates in social establishments or institutions meant to provide care for such patients. Part of this caring function is to control social situations through careful planning and governance of for instance eating situations. The study is based on observations from a day care center in Norway. We are concentrating on the meeting of such biological issues as neurological decline and need for nourishment on the one hand, and how these biological claims are me a t and handled socially and culturally in institutionalized eating situations. The study is informed by Norbert Elias ideas about civilization. The civilized is understood as the normal. The study is also informed by the sociology of the body. The body is understood as a biological entity with biological needs and limitations but also as a normatively regulated social body. Ordinary social environments presuppose a well-functioning body with no anomalies. The demented body have some anomalies and institutions like the day care center are faced with the problem of how to civilize or domesticate the “demented body”. Our paper focuses on how such challenges are managed in eating situations.