Dementia activists and allies from around the world are coming together through “Reimagining Dementia” to push for positive change
Spanning continents, professions and lived experiences, the members of “Reimagining Dementia: A Creative Coalition for Justice” are focused on a unifying goal: do better for those impacted by dementia.
“We want to organize and mobilize a truly grassroots force that can move the conversation about aging and dementia in a positive, creative, inclusive, just and life-affirming direction.” says Reimagining Dementia coordinator Mary Fridley, a New York City-based organizer, activist and coordinator of special programs at the East Side Institute, an education and research centre.
Formally launched on September 8, the grassroots coalition includes more than 270 international members from varied backgrounds. Members include people living with dementia, care partners, artists, academics, advocates, medical professionals and more.
The coalition also released a “call to action” document that highlights its core principles —the need to challenge and transform dementia culture and treatment, amplify lived experience and advance the roles of art, activism and technology in care. Included in the document are a list of values that the coalition believes should guide dementia-related projects, programs, policies and approaches, but Fridley says how the coalition will operate has been left intentionally open. Members are currently working collectively to determine and guide those choices moving forward. Fridley says leading with creativity and the arts with opportunities for play, performance and improvisation will remain a central focus.
“What is taken away from people with dementia and, broadly speaking, people who may be limited in their physical, cognitive or emotional abilities is that we stop viewing them as human beings and as contributing members of society. It’s as if they are just here to be taken care of,” says Fridley, “And while I want them to have the best of care, they have much more to offer.”
Fridley says the fact that the coalition emerged when it did is no coincidence. Reimaging Dementia was formed during a pandemic in which older adults have been disproportionately impacted, and inspired by global calls for ends to racial, social, environmental and economic injustice.
“What we’ve seen is a movement of people around the world saying, ‘Enough is enough,’” says Fridley. “We can do better. We have to be more innovative and bold. We need to more creatively address the systemic problems that are impacting so many people.” [ ]