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Exploring dementia through creativity

Explore how artists creatively interpret the journey of living with dementia, using various mediums to foster empathy, raise awareness, and offer unique perspectives on memory and identity.


Dementia is a condition that affects a person’s memory, thinking, and behaviour. More than 55 million people across the globe live with dementia and, in the UK alone, a new person develops symptoms every 3 minutes.


Whilst many aspects of this complex condition are still shrouded in mystery,  researchers, people living with dementia, and their caregivers and supporters across the globe are making an extensive collaborative effort to improve the experience of living with dementia. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many creatives are choosing to explore the experience of living with this condition through their work. 


From disorienting, labyrinthine corridors to mazes shrouded in darkness, spaces with shifting layouts and immersive auditory journeys, artists have used a wide variety of imagery and mediums to capture the essence of living with dementia.


Sometimes their work invites its audience to step directly into the person’s mind. In other cases, it sheds light on the experiences of those who are indirectly – but nevertheless intensely – touched by dementia. These creative outputs can achieve many things, from fostering empathy and compassion to shaping ideas on how to maintain a good life for those living with the condition. 


These creative projects can range from being poignant and haunting to nostalgic and melancholic. In this post, we explore works that immerse us in the world of dementia, each offering a unique perspective and emotional journey. 

Creative works that explore dementia 

Everywhere at the End of Time by The Caretaker 

Everywhere at the End of Time is a six-part album series by The Caretaker, alias of the British electronic musician James Leyland Kirby. This ambitious project aims to musically depict the progression of dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease..  


The album begins with nostalgic, warbling, crackling melodies reminiscent of old ballroom tunes. These echoes of musical memories gradually shift into dissonance, distortion, and fragmented soundscapes. As the series progresses, listeners are taken on a haunting journey through the changes to memory and sense of self that can accompany dementia.  


Track titles such as We don’t have many days, I still feel as though I am me and Internal bewildered world also offer brief snapshots of the experience. Could these be snippets of conversations with family? Descriptions of momentary states of mind recounted to a doctor? Fleeting images of memories that were long buried until now?


The Caretaker's work is an evocative sonic exploration that mirrors the sometimes disorienting experience of dementia, offering a deeply moving and immersive musical journey. 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova 

This poignant debut novel by neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova offers an intimate portrayal of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Still Alice tells the story of the fictional Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor, as she navigates the challenges of her diagnosis. The novel delves into Alice's shifting perspectives, from the initial confusion and denial to the gradual acceptance and adaptation to her new reality. 


Genova’s book won the 2008 Bronte prize, and many readers agree that it sensitively portrays the emotional impact of dementia on both the individual and their loved ones. While some may critique the story for spreading misunderstandings about genetic essentialism, the novel cultivates a powerful sense of empathy towards those living with dementia. It also highlights moments of clarity, loss, and the enduring power of love and connection. 

Before I Forget - 3-Fold Games 

In this first-person exploration-based video game developed by 3-Fold Games, players are put in the shoes of Sunita, a woman with early-onset dementia. As you explore Sunita's home, memories, and the fragments of her life, you begin to piece together her story and the challenges she faces. 


The game unfolds through a series of interactive vignettes, each revealing a bit more about Sunita's life, her relationships, and the impact of her condition on herself and those around her. Players navigate Sunita's home, searching for clues and triggering memories that provide glimpses into her past. The environment itself becomes a canvas of memories, with objects and spaces triggering emotional recollections. 


Through its immersive storytelling and interactive elements, the game invites players to empathise with Sunita's journey, confronting the confusion, frustration, and clarity that defines her experience. 


One of the most striking aspects of the game is its use of visual and auditory cues to simulate the disorientation and shifting perceptions that come with dementia. Rooms change layout, objects appear and disappear, and the soundtrack reflects Sunita's state of mind. This dynamic approach provides players with a glimpse into Sunita’s world through her eyes. 


Before I Forget stands as a powerful example of how video games can be a medium for exploring complex and sensitive themes. By putting players directly into the perspective of someone living with dementia, the game fosters a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with this condition. It emphasises the importance of human connection, memory, and the struggle to hold onto one's identity in the face of fading memories. 

Artists living with dementia 

There are, of course, many artists who live with a diagnosis of dementia and, it could be argued, that the changing perceptions and realities that are associated with the condition may enable people living with dementia to explore aspects of their creativity that were not available to them before the onset of the condition. 


In addition, the making art can be a significantly positive and transformative experience. Find out more by reading about the artist within exhibit, and the solo exhibit by John Sangster, who lives with dementia.

Shaping the future of dementia care 


The creative works highlighted here offers diverse perspectives on the experience of living with dementia. There are many benefits to projects like this receiving public attention. For example, they bolster awareness of the condition, encourage a rounded discourse on how to improve the lives of those living with dementia, and can help those who are affected by it feel less alone in their experience. 


Are you a healthcare professional interested in learning more about dementia? If so, you can make a tangible difference to people’s lives and shift the public perception of this condition. Our 100% online MSc in Dementia is designed to equip you with the vital skills, in-depth knowledge and person-centred perspectives required to formulate effective strategies for working with people living with dementia.


Since our expert academics work closely to develop this course with end-of-life specialists from Hull’s Dove House Hospice, the education you’ll receive is underpinned by real-world person-centred care and experience.  


How can hospitality and care professionals ensure that people with dementia are living as well as possible? What can we do to maintain their dignity and wellbeing? What policies and frameworks can be put in place to ensure the effective provision of high-quality, person-centred care? 


If you’re interested in pursuing these lines of enquiry, then our course is the perfect path for you. We hope you’ll join us and shape a better future for people living with dementia:


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