COMMUNICATION

Dementia Friends

Before the Session:

Me: Nah! I really don’t think I should go to any of the dementia sessions.

Brave Me: Why not?

Me: I have my issues and I’m afraid I’ll freak out.

Brave Me: Wimp! Given everything you’ve been through, you should be able to deal with anything these days. Go! Keep quiet when you’re there and then find a corner afterwards to blub in.

The session was led by Dementia Friends, and they began by asking for words which come to mind when we hear the word ‘Dementia’. Failed memory, confusion, paranoia, losing things and personality changes came out. I thought it strange that nobody mentioned loss and fear.

The leaders gave us the five main messages which Dementia Friends want to get across:

  1. Dementia is not a natural part of old age. One in fourteen of over 65s have dementia but some are much younger.
  2. Dementia is a disease of the brain. It affects everyone differently. There are over 100 different types of dementia.
  3. Dementia is not just about losing memory. It also affects motor skills, sequencing, loss of inhibition, judging distance, perception.
  4. It is possible to live well with it.
  5. There is more to the person than the dementia.

As a description of dementia, Carole gave us the analogy of a person as a bookcase holding books from every memory of her life, with the most recent memories on the top shelf and her childhood ones at the bottom. As the bookcase begins to rock and topple, the books begin to fall off, those from the top shelf (recent events) dropping first. Imagine that most of the books have disappeared while the person could be living on the shelf containing the 50s.  What would she not know about? Not just microwaves, smart phones and videos. Would she know what a teabag is, or what it’s for? How would she make a cup of tea? Should you make it for her, or does this undermine her sense of independence? Perhaps the real way to help her is to buy tea rather than teabags.

One of the most heartening pieces of information for me, as a great believer in the power of language, was that it is no longer acceptable to refer to ‘dementia sufferers’. They are ‘people with dementia’. This reflects the way in which changing the term ‘rape victims’ to ‘rape survivors’ enlightens the public and gives strength to those who have been raped. It is entirely positive, as was this session. The exercises illustrated how perceptions of dementia vary as widely as the people who have these perceptions.

After the Session:

Other People: Are you ok?

Me: (sniff) Sure. 

Other People: No, you’re not. What happened? Was it bad? 

Me: No, it was bloody good. But I should have listened to myself. There were too many connections. Too many contacts. Too many familiar moments. I shouldn’t have gone. I was right. It was scary. I’ll get some wine and forget about it.

Other People: Not a good idea! 

Me: Tough!

- Joy Pascoe

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Dementia Friends

Symptoms of Dementia - Alzheimers Disease International

Support - Dementia UK

MOBILE / Paper Birds Theatre Company

MOBILE / Paper Birds Theatre Company

Mobile marks the second installment of Paper Birds Theatre Company’s trilogy on social identity. Performed in a disused caravan before an audience of nine, the play aims to explore the emotional ambivalence caused by social mobility. After a brief, somewhat awkward ‘name game’ on deck chairs outside, the guests are invited in, offered biscuits and other hospitalities while our host gives us an overview of her situation. Her story is a familiar one: after the abrupt termination of a long term relationship, she finds herself without a flat to live in or a safety net to catch her. She is forced to return home. Perhaps in attempt to salvage some sense of progress, she shuns her mother’s actual home in preference for the caravan instead. 

SPILL: A VERBATIM SHOW ABOUT SEX / Propolis Theatre

SPILL: A VERBATIM SHOW ABOUT SEX / Propolis Theatre

Verbatim theatre may have its limitations, but as a way of meshing together oral histories and competing testimonies it has an effectiveness that ‘conventional’ theatre and performance can be more leaden in conveying. 

GENERATION ZERO / Lamphouse Theatre

GENERATION ZERO / Lamphouse Theatre

In a world increasingly mediated and sustained through ever more subtle technologies, it seems appropriate that the protagonists of Generation Zero meet through an online dating app. Their blossoming romance develops through a particular set of millennial anxieties and rituals. The strife at an unresponded message with a read receipt, the bonding over twee children's literature, the small unfoldings of mutual appreciations and desires.

 

TRAVESTY / Fight in the Dog

TRAVESTY / Fight in the Dog

Travesty is a play dealing with transitions. From one state of life to the next. Between innocence and ageing masquerading as experience. From a romantic relationships move from cradle to grave. From early 20s insouciance to the creeping fear that this might be all you’ve got. From dissatisfaction to, well, what exactly?

DEAFFIREFLY: PLAYING WITH POETRY / DeafFirefly aka Donna Williams

DEAFFIREFLY: PLAYING WITH POETRY / DeafFirefly aka Donna Williams

‘Poetry in motion’ is a phrase that's most often used as a cliche, one that’s used to describe fast cars or effortlessly talented dancers. But it’s also an entirely literal description of poet Donna William’s work. Her performance ‘Playing With Poetry’ explores the interplay between English and BSL poetry. Her first poems are spoken in English. Then, she performs them in BSL, her movements bringing tenderness and lyricism

SPOONFACE STEINBURG / Top Right Theatre

SPOONFACE STEINBURG / Top Right Theatre

Spoonface knows that people in operas die beautifully and she wants to die beautifully too. Diagnosed with autism, and later terminal cancer, the child walks along silver linings in this hour-long monologue. Tackling the difficulties of development disabilities and terminal illness, Spoonface’s optimism never falters, as the backing track of Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ lulls us into a romantic view of death.

4D CINEMA / Mamoru Iriguchi

4D CINEMA / Mamoru Iriguchi

Mamoru Iriguchi’s moving planes of flat projection are a visual signature, a recurring technique constructed through a wacky series of contraptions that disguise their sophistication. In 4D Cinema the footage projected onto them are used to question time itself, the ability of a subject to define their own home and the biographic responsibilities of the performer and audience. The nature of memory is as much its subject as Marlene Dietrich, both in what the audience remember of themselves as they were fifty minutes younger, and in thoughts of how your memory will survive after death.

TANK / Breach

TANK / Breach

Dr Doolittle may have wanted to talk to the animals, but in the 1960s NASA was determined to make them speak English. In a spectacular act of hubris, the agency had decided that if any aliens came to earth, we should attempt to communicate with them in the manner of an aristocrat abroad – slowly, loudly and in perfect English.