How to grow old and keep creative

May 25, 2017  •  4 Comments

Most of my work focuses on young families. New parents. Toddlers. Babies. It feels like that is ALL we see out there. In social media too. Happy families, happy parents. All so young and pretty if I may add...It is not often we see the other end of life. Our eldest. You know them. That lost generation; they are nearly invisible, inconvenient even. Where are you going with this Ana? I hear you say. 

I am currently filming and photographing a very special group of people. Me being a choir enthusiast, I couldn't resist when I was asked to meet the Past Times Community Choir in Naas. This is how they describe what they do: 

'The choir aims to provide a warm, stimulating and supportive environment for all and achieves this with the help of our team of dedicated volunteers, and through the greatly valued partnership of our host venue, McAuley Place.

Singing a widely varied repertoire and lead by musical director Sharon Murphy, choir members get the opportunity to reminisce, experience the sense of unity that choral singing evokes and benefit from the proven effects that community choir membership has on an overall sense of wellbeing.

Our greater aim is for the choir to become part of the cultural tapestry of Kildare, showcasing the value of an authentic and truly inclusive musical project.'

But this choir offers something unique. Some of their members suffer from Dementia and Alzheimer. They are collected from their nursing homes, and brought to McAuley Place, where they get to spend every Tuesday morning SINGING, having a cup of tea, cake and a chat. Some are brought by their carers, or are still well enough to come in by themselves.

I got to speak directly with the people involved in this incredible activity. Some of the things they shared with me resonated so deeply. For some people Tuesday mornings mean they get to speak with another human being (think about that again!!). For the rest of the week they may live in a very quiet home, or a nursing home away from their relatives, which in most cases visit them only from time to time. 

Tuesday mornings also mean they get to interact with younger people. Imagine this. When you live in a nursing home there are not many chances you will get to interact with other generations, or be in contact with children. That is a huge loss. We all know how the grandparents feel younger having little kids around! It is hard for younger people to walk into a nursing home and engage in conversation. But if we facilitate projects like this we are providing integration, understanding, stimulation. A little bit of happiness too, I'd dare to say. I have seen this myself. When they come together to sing they are happy, they walk out happy. They are transported to another time through music. Some even remember all the words of songs they love. I witnessed a couple singing to each other and their eyes became alive. That young couple they once were was present, so vivid. That was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced behind the camera. 

We are all heading to old age (hopefully!). I consider myself a creative person. Independent. Always interested in learning new things. Meeting new people. I recharge when I am around like minded friends and they inspire me in different ways. I'd like to think that essence of me will still be there at the end of my life and that there will be programmes encouraging and nurturing creativity wherever it is I may end up. Is carrying the spirit of a child in old age an ambitious goal? 

I would love to know what you think about the idea of bringing creativity to nursing homes, BUT better than that, what programmes can we create that will allow our eldest to get BACK in society, bringing all generations together to interact and learn from each other? This is not a rhetoric question by the way. I am picking your brains for real and I am listening. 

Ana x

 


Comments

Annette Byrne(non-registered)
Powerful piece Ana thank you.I have older friends in local choir & its so important for them.I was chatting to a lady yesterday who took up golf after losing her husband only yesterday & her comment was..it's a new lease of life mentally & physically,how wonderful is that!Staying creative I think would mean so much for everyone,no matter what age.Would be a huge benefit to older people.
Eva(non-registered)
This country it's so different to mine (Spain) the weather doesn't help, I miss to see the elder in the streets knitting in a group laughing and chatting all the afternoon with young people around learning their skills or the tables of chess for grandpa to play with grandchildren or the group of women singing and playing the pandereta, no, the weather don't help, but I'll be happy to bring out my beading skills to share it with the elderly in this country and make them happy if I can.
Tara Prendergast(non-registered)
Powerful read Ana * as I wipe my tears *
This has resonated with me SO much. I am so very passionate about exploring the avenues open to us, the able-bodied, to create something that will alleviate this alienation, this sadness that seems to come hand in hand with being old.
I for one will NOT accept that. It is up to us to develop programmes and integrate our Communities to tackle this issue.
I loved this post so much and I am sure we shall work on something VERY soon in relation to this.
Thank you Ana x
Gorgeous post
Virginie(non-registered)
I love this blog so much Ana. I let yo with a french friend of mine the other day, and we were both saying how shocked we were when we first moved here and so no old people in the streets the way you would in Spain or France. I think especially in Ireland there is a motif room to make more space for the elder. And i thinking that bringing my very early clay skills to get dirty with a group of big kids would really appeal to me :) Good start girl! Let's start the movement! Rent a granny! Crafts for child/gran
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