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  • 2018MossabirPhD

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Out and about: a sensory ethnographic study of therapeutic landscape experiences of people living with dementia in the wider community

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Rahena Mossabir
Publication date2019
Number of pages252
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • ESRC
  • Age UK
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Whilst ageing in place is considered important for a healthier and a better quality of life for older people, there is yet a dearth of evidence on how older people with dementia negotiate and experience the wider community. The aim of the present study is therefore to explore experiences of social and spatial engagement in the wider community for people living with dementia in order to advance understandings of how their interactions in and with community settings impact on their health and wellbeing. Drawing on the theoretical framework of therapeutic landscapes and a sensory ethnographic methodology, I provide social, embodied and symbolic accounts of people’s everyday experiences and pursuits of health and wellbeing within their neighbourhood and beyond. An in-depth examination of socio-spatial interactions of nine people with dementia, seven of whom participated with family carers, is conducted by use of innovative interview methods (including photo-elicitation and walking interviews), participant observations and participant ‘diaries’ (kept for a period of four weeks).
The thesis presents three broad themes relating to participants’ interactions with and experiences of places beyond the home- the diverse and changing nature of people’s personal circumstances and conceptions of health and wellbeing; the interrelationship between people’s changing health needs, lifestyle choices and geographical area of activities and finally the social, physical and symbolic processes through which people maintain a sense of normality and stay connected. Together these themes illustrate the significance of a variety of places to the lives of people with dementia. The ‘shrinking world’ analogy associated with experiences of dementia is thereby considered through a more focused discussion on the active role people with dementia play in shaping their life worlds and their everyday interactions to meet their health and wellbeing needs. Further, by applying the concept of therapeutic landscape to experiences of people with dementia in the wider community, this thesis makes an important contribution to dementia research whilst also suggesting new directions for the therapeutic landscape scholarship.