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Academic Journal – Dress & Dementia: It’s Connection to Identity

Identity is the most important element when it comes to memory. In memory affected conditions, the sense of self and identity is completely stripped away, leaving the individual a shell of who they once were. Something that I heavily researched for my first idea in this brief is the connection between dress and identity and this is something that also applies in this area of research. With the way we dress being such a strong display of self-expression and is so strongly tied to our sense of self, it makes the simple concept of dress essential for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Clothes lie at the interface between the body and its social presentation. They signify to the wider world who and what the person is; and in doing so have the capacity to act back on that individual endorsing their sense of identity at a directly embodied level. They can thus play a significant part in the maintenance, or otherwise, of embodied personhood.” While dress can become “a site of struggle, as people with advanced dementia resist daily routines of dressing and undressing, or undress in inappropriate situations”, it can also be “particularly significant for relatives and family carers, maintaining continuity with the embodied biography of the person they love and knew”. This means that clothing, and the connection it holds to one’s identity, has a huge impact in terms of not only illustrating the mind discarding what we consider ‘normal’ daily activities, but also on preserving the memory of the person as the changes in dress act as visual markers for the deterioration of the disease which evokes feelings despair and sadness.

 

Natasha Perkin

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