Conserving habitus: Home, couplehood and dementia

Gopinath, Manik; Peace, Sheila and Holland, Caroline (2018). Conserving habitus: Home, couplehood and dementia. Home Cultures, 15(3) pp. 223–263.



Compared to research on home in circumstances of aging, place and care, our knowledge about home in relation to couplehood is limited despite increases in the percentage of married and cohabiting older people in UK. Specifically, our understanding of experience and meaning of home for couples where one partner has dementia remains under-explored. This article presents a scoping review of published empirical literature to examine older couples’ experiences of home in dementia. The literature identified and reviewed through searching academic databases and Google Scholar is interdisciplinary and a thematic analysis suggests interactions of couplehood, home and dementia. To discuss these interactions, we use Bourdieu’s framework of field, capital, practice and habitus. We observe that habitus may gradually alter and fracture. But, in locating and supporting performance of (adapted) everyday relationship and domestic practices, home has a distinct role in contributing to conserving habitus and in turn continuity of relationship and home. Gradual fracturing of habitus with progression of dementia however also suggests that continuity of relationship and home remain contingent, but this needs further investigation. It is an element of home futures that cannot remain invisible.

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