Oró-Piqueras, Maricel, Casado-Gual, Núria, Vizcaíno, Verónica, "Yes, that's me singing to myself": Jackie Kay's "These are not my clothes" as a Self-Affirming Narrative of Care in Old Age," Gerontologist, Jun2024, Vol. 64 Issue 6, p1-7

Fictional stories set in care homes have increased in the last decades and, with them, the perspectives from which care homes are constructed and represented have become diversified. Care home stories. Aging, disability, and long-term residential care. Transcript Verlag]. Through the alternative worlds that are offered by literary narratives, these stories allow the reader to glimpse into the increasingly varied possibilities of care that a residential settlement can offer. At the same time, they highlight the attributes attached to human beings once their bodies are not regarded as fully functional or able by their carers and society at large. Jackie Kay’s short story “These are not my clothes” (2011) presents a highly symbolic care-home narrative in which constant practices of depersonalized care and infantilization lead to the inevitable dehumanization of the residents and their eventual deterioration. Through the viewpoint of its female protagonist, Margaret, Kay creates a personal, poignant and, at times, also humorous narrative of care that undermines prevailing images of the so-called fourth age as a period of extreme cognitive deterioration. Drawing from theories of care and the interdisciplinary field of aging studies, especially in connection with theories of embodiment and old age and social approaches to aging, this article offers a close reading of Kay’s short story as both an assertive narrative on the fourth age, and as an insubordinate story of care, which can serve as a model to both gerontologists and care practitioners.