September is World Alzheimer’s Month and Edinburgh’s Capital Theatres will continue its commitment to supporting people living with the condition through the programme People Living with Dementia (PLWD).
Willy Gilder, Participant of Capital Theatres’ Dementia Friendly Projects said “I have Alzheimer’s Disease, and I think it’s time that we reconsidered how we think about ‘dementia’ and how we treat people with progressive brain disease. Forget what you think you know – I’m not ready for the PVC armchair and Vera Lynn. People with dementia, laugh and joke and paint and sing and write books. We’re ordinary people with a brain disease.”
The PLWD programme comprises a several strands including a live-streamed dementia-friendly concert series celebrating personal stories with songs and playlists that have been written, picked and performed by people with lived experience of dementia called Together In Song.
The release of a song entitled Trees of the Forest, that was also written by people living with dementia with songwriter Martha Middlemiss, will be performed by the participants and band The Daughters.
There will be a dementia-friendly song-writing session called Songwriting Sprint with Gus Harrower following the theme of ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s’ when PLWD and their families will be invited to share what they would like people to know about their experience of dementia, how they hope to combat the stigma around a diagnosis. These will then be combined and composed into a song to be performed by people living with dementia from the Forget Me Notes project.
Add to this, Capital Theatres’ Satellites Performance Company, that’s made up of people with lived experience of dementia, that will shortly release its first film.
Part of the Zoom with a View heritage reminiscence project includes the song and a completed memory book of creative writing, poetry and visual art about theatre put together by PLWD and their families. Other regular activities to boost stimulation, sociability and creativity are Tea & Jam, A Brew & a Blether and afternoon tea parties where performances are delivered to people’s homes.
Dawn Irvine, Creative Development Manager (Dementia Friendly Projects) said “Our work is all about empowering participants to speak about their experience of dementia in creative, sociable and collaborative ways to reduce stigma and increase health and wellbeing. We want to acknowledge PLWD as experts in their own experience and to present opportunities to take part in creative activities that are meaningful to them. I’ve been blown away by the level of artistic ingenuity they have shown, in their writing, singing, performing and artwork showcased in the activities in this, World Alzheimer’s Month, and beyond. It has demonstrated that a dementia diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of our cultural lives but indeed can be a catalyst for them to flourish.”