Reconciling conceptualisations of the body and person-centred care of the older person with cognitive impairment in the acute care setting Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article, we sought reconciliation between the "body-as-representation" and the "body-as-experience," that is, how the body is represented in discourse and how the body of older people with cognitive impairment is experienced. We identified four contemporary "technologies" and gave examples of these to show how they influence how older people with cognitive impairment are often represented in acute care settings. We argued that these technologies may be mediated further by discourses of ageism and ableism which can potentiate either the repressive or productive tendencies of these technologies resulting in either positive or negative care experiences for the older person and/or their carer, including nurses. We then provided examples from research of embodied experiences of older people with dementia and of how nurses and other professionals utilized their inter-bodily experiences to inform acts of caring. The specificity and individuality of these experiences were more conducive to positive care experiences. We conclude the article by proposing that the act of caring is one way nurses seek to reconcile the "body-as-representation" with the "body-as-experience" to mitigate the repressive effects of negative ageism and ableism. The act of caring, we argue, is the essence of caring enacted through the provision of person-centred care which evokes nurses to respond appropriately to the older person's "otherness," their "variation of being" while enabling them to enact a continuation of themselves and their own version of normality.

publication date

  • 2017