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Curtain up on funny side of dementia

By Denis Brown, Perthshire Advertiser

2085 days ago   Article ID# 679811
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Alzheimer Scotland

PERTHSHIRE , U K (Perthshire Advertiser) - A MENTAL health charity will send in the clowns at an inspirational Perth Studio Theatre event today.

Presented by PLUS Perth as part of its Involving Mental Health Matters Campaign, the performance-based day will illustrate how positivity can improve quality of life for those with dementia and their carers.

In what is a dramatic coup for organisers, the talent includes a troupe of clowns from the widely-acclaimed Elderflowers initiative run by the Hearts and Minds charity.

The unique approach involves ‘clowndoctors’ visiting dementia patients in hospitals, hospices, residential or respite care across Scotland to use zany antics to encourage communication, interaction and laughter.

Before the clowns are sent in to work the room this afternoon, audience members will be treated to a production of Carolyn McCole’s play, You Don’t Know Me, by the Space Theatre Company.

The light-hearted drama concerns Patty, a young student nurse, who arrives on a ward and struggles to supervise the spectrum of colourful characters developing dementia.

“It’s certainly not a depressing play,” explained PLUS Perth’s Susan Scott.

“It is quite realistic and funny and should leave the audience on a poignant note before the clowns arrive.

“They do some great work, visiting people in the latter stages of dementia, giving them a good laugh and making their day a bit brighter.

“So the audience should leave feeling quite uplifted by the whole experience and our hope is that our event will share good practice and promote hope and optimism for people with dementia and their carers.”

Ms Scott said that in the bad old days, people with dementia were put into ‘funny farms’ and generally left to their own devices, whereas there was now a much more positive and proactive approach.

“There’s more of an acceptance now and if you have a terminal illness, which dementia is, then the message is that you can still have a meaningful and positive life,” she said.

Dementia, a major cause of disability in people over 60 – which can be caused by long-term or excessive drinking – resulting in neurological damage and memory loss, is a major health issue facing Scotland.

In its Dementia Epidemic report, Alzheimer Scotland predicts that by 2031, there will be 102,000 to 114,000 people with dementia aged under 65 in Scotland, up from 58,000 to 65,000 in 2007.

“It really is a big concern, just the sheer scale of the problem, which is why we’re busy running events like this one,” said Ms Scott.

Sponsored by McEwens of Perth, Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside, the Play Positively for Dementia programme starts with a free performance of You Don’t Know Me at 1.30pm.

Ostensibly targeted at people with dementia, medical professionals and carers, limited seats are available to the general public. To book, call PLUS Perth on 62 6242.

Space Theatre Company has kindly volunteered to present a public performance of You Don’t Know Me tonight at 7.30pm, with all proceeds going to PLUS Perth.

Tickets cost £5 – to book call 01738 621031.

Copyright 2016 Perthshire Advertiser   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 2085 days ago   Article ID# 679811

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