Falcus, Sarah and Sako, Katsura (2015) Representing Dementia and Care in Post-war Japan: The Twilight Years, Memories of Tomorrow and Pecoross’ Mother and Her Days. Feminist Review, 111 (1). pp. 88-108. ISSN 0141-7789

As the number of people affected by dementia increases rapidly, dementia has been transformed into an epidemic which endangers global health and wealth, and many populations are now living in what Jain terms a time of prognosis, in fear of the disease. Through its strong association with ageing and memory loss, dementia is conceived of as a linear decline into loss of self and death, and those with dementia as other. More significantly, imagined as a threat that signifies both a loss of able-bodied workforce and a large population dependent on care and support, dementia inevitably feeds into the ‘crisis-of-care’ narrative that is prominent in many ageing societies. With one of the fastest ageing populations in the world, and an extremely low birth rate, the dementia prognosis is particularly acute in Japan and dementia is strongly linked to the idea of a ‘care crisis’. This situation has produced an increasing number of cultural representations of dementia and care and this paper considers three of these cultural texts, all rooted in the historical and cultural contexts in which they were produced: the novel The Twilight Years; the film Memories of Tomorrow; and the comic book Pecoross’ Mother and Her Days. The analysis concentrates upon their representations of care, seeing this as a space where the ethical relationship between self and other can be negotiated and where time with dementia can be imagined and re-imagined. The analysis of these texts from a feminist ethics perspective demonstrates the potential of popular and creative representations to interrogate and potentially expand the meanings of dementia, ageing and living in prognosis.

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