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September 9, 2016

Community Correspondent: Delia Muir on dementia and caring

Delia as a child with her Nana Em

Delia shares her personal story and talks about ‘Lost in Memories’ – her theatre project about dementia and caring

Guest post by Delia Muir, Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow, University of Leeds

When I was teenager my Nana had a stroke and then developed dementia. Sadly Nana Em is no longer with us but my memories of that time have stuck with me into adulthood. I’ve since met many people who have similar stories. 

I currently work in the Medical School at the University of Leeds. My job involves me meeting with many different patients, carers and members of the public. I work with those people to try and shape health research. By collaborating with people who bring real life experience I aim to ensure that research is relevant, ethical and inclusive. 

I try to find creative and interesting ways to spark conversations about health. One of the ways I do that is through theatre. I’m currently working with a great group of people to develop a short play about dementia. The project includes input from people with dementia, carers, family members, researchers and theatre makers.
I’ve been lucky enough to share some amazing conversations with people who have dementia or have been touched by dementia. There are a few themes which have come up during these discussions so far:

Joy – People with dementia can still have a capacity for happiness, love and enjoyment. How can we challenge some of the negative stereotypes associated with dementia, whilst still recognising how hard it can be. 

Music – Music has featured in many of our discussions. People have talked about music soothing, invigorating and providing a connection with others. This is supported by research about dementia. 

Empathy – Many stories demonstrate a need for empathy when people with dementia seem distressed, confused or aggressive. 

Perception – People with dementia may perceive things differently to those around them. How can we better understand and work with their reality?

We’re keen to build on these ideas through workshops, rehearsals, conversation and the play itself. 

The first public performance will take place on the afternoon of 19 November in Headingley, Leeds. Tickets will be available shortly. Please contact me if you’d like to come along. We hope that this first performance will provide us with valuable feedback and start some ongoing discussions about dementia. 

We’re also still looking for people to help us develop the play. If you have experience of dementia then we’d love to hear from you. 

You can download more information about the project below.

Delia Muir 
Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow 
University of Leeds
0113 343 8609

Lost in MemoriesA theatre project about dementia and caring