One of the most distressing aspects of a dementia diagnosis may be the idea that accumulated memories can no longer be remembered.
But, with a weekly camera club that records the experiences of people with dementia through photography and sound, a project in Kirriemuir is bringing people back into the picture.
Images capture moments in time, document memories and make it possible to relive them, mostly reliving happier times.
The purpose of the comic book is to help individuals with dementia use transport without fear.
On an audiovisual collaboration named “Reframing Dementia.” documentary photographer Keith Lloyd Davenport and composer Dr. Shona Mackay collaborated.
A community met to practice camera techniques on a weekly basis. Everyone was equipped with a digital camera to take home and encouraged to capture their everyday lives.
“Reframing Dementia” is a documentary project that aims to reframe the understanding of dementia, Mr. Lloyd Davenport said. The inspiration was to work and help them record their lives with individuals newly diagnosed with dementia.
They taught them how to take images that tell stories after Mr. Lloyd Davenport and Ms. Mackay gave each person a small digital camera.
At Kirrie Connections, a dementia-friendly community center, they met every week for seven weeks to discuss the pictures they took between visits.
Dr. Mackay also recorded interviews with participants in addition to photographs to help them share their stories in their own voices. She adds that the project and accompanying show were made more accessible to many through these two mediums.
She found through the recorded discussions that interacting with the camera helped to reveal areas of the brain that might have been disappearing.
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“She said, “There have been references to the use of images to make memories, to remind them of things from the past, to take photographs that remind them of things. There were references to them discovering new talents that they didn’t know about and had no access to before.
The project also enhanced the confidence of people and provided them with a new way of sharing their own experiences.
Reframing Dementia had such a positive effect that the participating individuals’ partners and family members reflected on how their mood had improved and a sense of trust had restored.
“They said they could see and feel the difference, and they really wanted to take the camera everywhere with them,” Dr. Mackay said. It’s such a wonderful thing because we’ve seen it once a week, but it’s also about the lasting effect and how it’s viewed by families.
Keith Lloyd Davenport Credit:
Both Dr Mackay and Keith Lloyd Davenport were moved to work with individuals dealing with the disease using their special abilities with the common knowledge of each having a grandmother diagnosed with dementia, but it was the finding and winning of support from the Dementia Services Development Trust that brought the concept to life.
“I trained as a documentary photographer, and for me it was a great inspiration to give back to this community and help people see dementia for what it really is and change people’s perception of what is shown in the media.”
In comparison to the images from the camp, Dr. Mackay said, “We wanted to show the reality [of living with dementia]and work with people to document their own experiences, as opposed to the images from the camp – to show how people really experience it, not how others imagine it.”
Dementia-friendly training is established by national charities to get everyone walking
The project will culminate in an exhibition that will display the work of regular participants. Before traveling to other locations, the Bank Street Gallery in Kirriemuir will host the event from Feb. 29 to March 1. Sharing the photographs with the group that documents them was a significant aspect of the project, so that participants could share and celebrate their work with family and friends, Lloyd Davenport said.
The goal of the pair is now to extend the initiative across Scotland.
Dr. Mackay said, “We both learned so much from it and found it useful for us as artists and for the participants and their families on so many levels.”