'Once I had money in my pocket, I was every colour under the sun': Using 'appearance biographies' to explore the meanings of appearance for people with dementia

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Appearance and the work invested in it by and for people with dementia are a neglected issue within dementia studies. In policy and practice there exists an assumption that the role of supporting a person to manage their appearance is easily assumed by another within caring encounters, only to be subsumed within the daily task-oriented provision of care. This paper reports on interviews conducted as part of the Hair and Care project, which explored questions of appearance and the meanings it holds with people with dementia. The research used 'appearance biographies', a method which allows for a range of topics to be considered about appearance throughout the life course, acting as a conduit for reminiscence and life story work. The paper reports on the key themes and findings from these interviews, discussing them in the context of a wider debate on dementia, self-expression and agency. A key question posed by the authors is whether appearance and the work invested in it are legitimate considerations for dementia care policy and practice. And if so, how should we make sense of this work and what significance should we attach to it? In seeking to answer these questions the authors position the perspectives and experiences of people with dementia as central to their analysis. A narrative framework is suggested as a useful basis on which to understand the work of managing appearance over the life course. The implications for policy and practice are outlined. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.




Ward, R., Campbell, S., & Keady, J. (2014). “Once I had money in my pocket, I was every colour under the sun”: Using “appearance biographies” to explore the meanings of appearance for people with dementia. Journal of Aging Studies, 30(1), 64–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2014.03.006

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