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New Directions in Anthropology
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Living Before Dying
Imagining and Remembering Home
Foreword by Lord Nigel Crisp
172 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-614-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (August 2017)
ISBN 978-1-78920-130-7 $27.95/£22.95 / Pb / Published (September 2018)
eISBN 978-1-78533-615-7 eBook
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 BBC THINKING ALLOWED ETHNOGRAPHY AWARD
“This is a poignant account of a yearlong observational study of a large nursing home… Overall, a practical and empathetic consideration of elder care.” • Choice
“Living Before Dying is an important and timely contribution to a rising body of social scientific and bioethical work about dementia, including the anthropology of senility. It should be read by all those who want care to improve for older people, with and without dementia.” • Times Higher Education
“A key quality of this book is the richness of detail, which unveils the crude reality of what it can mean to live and work in an institution for older people. This kind of detail, sometimes extremely frank, is often lacking in other accounts in the literature.” • Anthropology in Action
“This short book is packed with fascinating detail and unflinching commentary. Residential homes, as Davies notes, are perhaps the epitome of Goffman’s definition of a total institution. Read this study and pray that you do not end up incarcerated, or at least that conditions change. How to improve social care is not addressed here, but the urgent need to do so could not be clearer.” • Work, Employment and Society Journal
“I strongly recommend this book, as its contents will shock, surprise and even reveal the truth about what happens behind closed doors at some care homes ... It is with great sensitivity that Davies has captured the true nature of caring for older people in a care setting. and the staff that care and support them in the latter years of their lives.” • Nursing and Residential Care
“Dr. Davies has tackled a complex, emotionally difficult and important issue facing a growing number of families with ageing parents worldwide. She guides the reader through the maze of changing conditions and emotions with grace and compassion. Her observations are astute, deep and insightful.” • Patricia O’Neill, University of Oxford China Centre.
This in-depth description of life in a nursing/care home for 70 residents and 40 staff highlights the daily care of frail or ill residents between 80 and 100 years of age, including people suffering with dementia. How residents interact with care assistants is emphasised, as are the different behaviours of men and women observed during a year of daily conversations between the author, patients and staff, who share their stories of the pressures of the work. Living Before Dying shows a world where, in extreme old age, people have to learn how to cope with living communally.
Janette Davies (1950-2019) was a social and medical anthropologist at the International Gender Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. Formerly a nurse/midwife she worked in international development in Bolivia, on the Thai/Cambodian border and Bangladesh. She conducted anthropological fieldwork in the UK, Zambia, Tanzania and Georgia.
Subject: Anthropology (General) Medical Anthropology Gender Studies and Sexuality
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