“It’s a bold day.
Let’s create a world where everyone can thrive.
A together day when the joy of one is the joy of all alive.”
Songs and imagination travel together. It takes imagination to write a song. Then songs spark the imagination of the listener. Play me songs like, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” or Elton John’s “My Song,” and I immediately remember the dreams and aspirations that fueled my imagination fifty years ago.
Songs stay with us. They have provided the soundtrack for many social movements. Estonia came to its freedom through its “singing revolution.” In Mexico, where I worked on a children’s health initiative, pop stars wrote songs to warn how dangerous dehydration could be to children. Rock n’ roll spoke to parents in a way government proclamations could not.
Catchy lyrics and melodies grab our attention and live in us for years.
Maybe that’s why the members of the Reimaging Dementia coalition, an international group of people living with dementia, caregivers, family and community members, health professionals and policy activists chose to write a song to help change the public’s fear-based conversation about dementia.
Why we need to re-imagine
Imagine a society that chooses to ostracize or “other” one-seventh of its population over seventy. By othering, I mean treating a group as slightly less than human, and not capable of enjoying life or making decisions about their own welfare.
Sounds ugly, right? But that’s how people are often treated after they receive a diagnosis of dementia. One day they’re a functioning, if occasionally forgetful, member of society. The next day they become dependent, isolated, and no longer able to make decisions about their lives.
As a member of the Coalition, I’ve heard stories from people with dementia and their partners that highlight the need for a different societal narrative.
For example, a former nurse recounted the story of being dissed by the medical system the moment she was diagnosed.
She’d been a senior nurse for many years. Even after memory loss impeded her from continuing to work, she functioned well in many ways. Yet, when she was being prepped for a medical procedure, about which she was far more familiar than the staff prepping her, she was told that her husband would have to sign the authorization paperwork. Not surprisingly, she was livid. She tells her story to illustrate how important it is to honor the dignity of people with dementia and their choices, wherever possible.
In the song below, you’ll hear a man say, “Some people I thought were my friends, kind of disappeared. I think it was because of fear of what they thought this disease was.”
I know that living with dementia or caring for someone with the condition can be hard. Last year, I was saddened when both a beloved cousin and good friend were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I don’t pretend that the road ahead will be easy for them. But what I didn’t know, before joining the Coalition, is all the opportunities for joy and creativity that can still exist, even with the disease. One woman in the coalition who is taking care of a spouse with dementia told me how extraordinarily grateful she is for all the beautiful, life-affirming times they still have together.
In a community, there is no “other”
Our culture treats dementia as if the person with the disease is the problem.
The Coalition treats it like a community affair, a scene in the performance of life that is being played by all of us together. In that performance, there is no “other.” We all have different roles and play in different scenes.
The song below was initially created in a series of Coalition meetings (on Zoom)! and then tuned with the participation of creatives, musicians, and advocates, including people with dementia. Its upbeat tune and uplifting message is meant to be shared and sung, as part of shifting the conversation about dementia from a “tragedy narrative” to one that is life-enhancing.
The song below was initially created in a series of Coalition meetings (on Zoom!) and then tuned and produced it with the participation of creatives, musicians, and advocates, including people with dementia. Its upbeat tune and uplifting message are meant to be shared and sung, as part of shifting the conversation about dementia from a “tragedy narrative” to one that is life-enhancing.
It’s a fearless day, it’s a hopeful way…let’s reimagine…
As important as its message is about dementia, the song stretches me to remember the power of imagination and connection.
It is through imagination that we see the future before it is here. With imagination, we create.
A quote attributed to Einstein, says
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
A song like the one below can spark a new future. Tap your toes and let yourself dance a new world into being.
Through song, let’s clear out what is dusty, outdated, and toxic in our world, and then use our imaginations to invent the way ahead.
To find out more about the Reimagining Dementia coalition go to ReimaginingDementia.com