Summary of Alzheimer’s Disease – Dementia project

Dementia is an umbrella term for Neurologic/Psychiatric diseases that is caused by two protein that formed plaques on neurons in which make them not be able to connect with each other to perform a task. Such tasks perform by synapses between neurons for example are to store memories and to re-collect memories, simple everyday chores, reading, making plans, regulating mood, and etc. The disease attacks the motor system it causes Parkinson’s, when it attacks the mood system it causes depression, or when it attacks memory part of the brain it causes Alzheimer’s, and so on. Based upon research, it is predicted that in 2050 there will be more people suffer from dementia and the chance is 1 in 2 people either have dementia or care for someone who have dementia. There is no cure for dementia yet.

First, the disease attack the part of brain that stores & regulates memories – Hippocampus then it spread all over the brain. At the end, the disease will destroy part of brain that regulate senses, breathing and heart. Each person diagnosed with dementia have different symptoms in which make it difficult for researchers to find a cure.

It is also a personal reason for me to choose Alzheimer’s as my subject matter because my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 50 and died of because of heart disease.

My intentions is to change old perception that dementia is age-related illness, and for everyone to be able to recognise early-onset dementia symptoms quickly, because unlike cancer or AIDS which illness can be seen physically fairly quickly, early-onset dementia can not be seen physically. Its symptoms can only be seen through changes of behaviour that we need to observe through time because the disease attacks our memory stored in the brain, effects the way we feel/mood and changes personality. As soon as we received proper diagnosis, the better we understand what type of dementia we have and make our plans for the present and future.

But most importantly is that by understanding symptoms of early-onset alzheimer’s we can provide more friendly environment for people with alzheimer’s/dementia. For example, If we meet a person with dementia doing their everyday chores but suddenly they forget what they meant to do or where they are going, we can patiently assist them so they can remember what they intended to do or where they wanted to go. We need to create the friendly environment everywhere, in schools, in the shops, at the office, community leisure centres, and so on. This is not only applies for assisting dementia patients to get through the day but will also support their family and carers.

So, my first idea is to create a room where everyone can experience what is like to live with early-onset of dementia. The aim is to change old perceptions that alzheimer’s/dementia is an age-related illness. The disease could attack every person as young as in their late 40’s and no matter what life-style they’ve had (healthy, active, academic, etc.) Early-onset dementia symptoms is when we loss ability in speech/language, reading, coordination, calculating, planning and short term memory lost. Things planned to be included in the participation:

  • To include continuing buzzing sound/noise (with headphone) that could influence the thought process (perceived from experiences) of normal people. When our thinking process to do activities is disturb, out concentration/focus is effected and we would not be able to do simple chores, for example putting the right pair of socks on or putting shirts back into drawer, and so on.
  • To invite public do simple everyday chores when they enter the installation.
  • To get feedback from the experience
  • The objects may/will be made out of thread and textile. 

Second idea is to display/create installation of fragmented objects & memories. I choose everyday objects and memories because we perceived our own perception of objects and memories through bodily experiences. The aim of fragmented everyday objects/memories is to represent loosing coordination, having hallucinations and loosing feeling/sensitivity-empathy, changing of personality and short-term memory loss suffered by early-onset dementia patients. Although, I believe that the essence of the person is still inside, it needs to be brought back by sparking their memories and senses. So fragmented objects can also represent the memory/senses coming back as well as represent disappearance.

Process of creating the objects/image: will be made with thread (embroidery) & textile and stitch on dissolvable fabric. Then the fabric will disappear once it’s put in warm water leaving the stitched image still intact. The process where the fabric disappear represents the loss of memories, however the stitched image left represents the essence that is still inside of the person who have alzheimer’s, i.e. love, interest, etc.

Third idea is to make a book that consists of scientific information about alzheimer’s disease, symptoms, recent research. The book is aimed for general public to understand about alzheimer’s and persuade them to support research in finding the cure for alzheimer’s/dementia and to get involve through joining a training session (Dementia Friends) to create a more friendly environment for people with alzheimer’s-dementia.

In addition, I hope Alzheimer’s seminar I’m going to attend at Bristol Uni on Nov. 23rd and my involvement with CARIAD dementia project will bring more insights into my ideas for this project.

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