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Sociology Department Seminar

Date: 4 December 2007 Time: 16.15-18.00

Venue: Institute for Advanced Studies Meeting Room 1

Instead of counting tears: Knowledge practices and evidence in environmental therapies in dementia care

There are many calls for reorientation in dementia care these days. It is a paradox and one of the ironies of the day that while it is still mostly treated as a matter of fact that there is 'nothing to be done', no treatment and nothing much medicine can offer in the case of dementia, the prescription and use of medications is so high that clinicians and researchers far beyond the usual tribe of social scientists speak up against the medicalization of dementia and old age. In Norway as well as elsewhere the geriatric literatures now recommend that environmental treatments always be the first choice. But it is still open and debated what to aim for, what to expect, and how to evaluate the effects of environmental treatments. Symptomatic of this uncertainty, one of Norway's most highly reputed professors in geriatric psychiatry, in a debate about the contribution of so-called non-pharmacological interventions, exclaimed: 'but what shall we do? Count tears?'

This article seeks to respond to the question about 'what to do' by pointing to the longstanding tradition for working with environmental measures in dementia care practice. I investigate how such forms of intervention and treatment work to improve the everyday life and well-being of patients, and so interfere with the course of the disease and the disease condition itself, too. For this I rely on fieldwork and observation on two sheltered wards for people with dementia in a nursing home in Norway. Data were recorded using both qualitative descriptive tools and techniques, and quantitative tools from Dementia Care Mapping. I followed in particular two therapeutic interventions, used separately as well as in combination, namely Music Therapy/Medicine and the Marte Meo Method. The aims are to contribute to the articulation, visibility and circulation of the knowledge practices of this tradition in dementia care; to support the efforts to document the effects and efficiency of environmental therapies; and to promote critical reflection around these practices.

Ingunn Brita Moser (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo)


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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