The end … and beyond

What I loved about the dementia writing project was the multiple and shifting aspects of working with such a wide range of people who were all focused on one topical subject – dementia.

Firstly, the older people themselves. They proved that although dementia is a medical condition that gets some of us in later life, taking away vital functions like short term memory, it  does not prevent the individual person struggling to be recognised and acknowledged.

Secondly, we met care staff who go way beyond the expectations of their job description, with a kindness we all admired, but they still found time to take an interest in the writing project.

Then the scientists, who are making such interesting discoveries based on facts and evidence, yet  all acknowledged that creativity and writing has an important role  to play in raising awareness of dementia, and supporting scientists and clinicians in thinking about how they talk to dementia patients. .

It was also fab to be working with a team of writers, designers, photographer, animator, managed by New Writing North who juggled funder’s requirements and deadlines while still keeping the soul of the project focused on creativity with words, words, words.

Most of all, I learnt about myself and my own writing. Following all the conversations with dementia clients, scientists, clinicians and carers, my imagination went in two completely different directions!

I discovered that I could create a kind of social realism in the Dementia Dilemmas series of ‘flash fiction’ stories produced for the project.  At the same time, I began to write an Atwood-esque fiction based in a dystopian world where dementia is an inconvenience to be controlled and silenced.   This latter fiction was informed, no doubt, by the media headlines that reinforce the negative stereotype that living too long is a burden on society.  Perhaps the media could change tack and celebrate a culture in which the joy of living has no age barrier.  Don’t we all want that for ourselves and our loved ones?

Romi Jones

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