A Play About Dementia Hopes To Open Conversation

Eau Claire (Aging & Disability Resource Center) – Across the region, communities are learning what it means to become “dementia-friendly,” yet far too many people are caught up in the stigma of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia. Here in Eau Claire, we want to advance the conversations that will help families, caregivers, first-responders, businesses, and elected officials deal best with opportunities for aging in place. In the US today, there are 5.8 million Americans living with AD or other type of dementia. In WI, more than 115,000 and in Eau Claire, around 2,000. One in three seniors will die from AD/dementia.

Set in the Monsetin family home, with much of the action taking place in their backyard garden, this play connects the audience to a challenging 24 hour period when Arthur’s adult children are feeling conflicted about what steps to take next for their father’s care. The choices are not easy. While Arthur may wander off at times, or lash out in anger or forget the names of his grandchildren, at other times he is lucid, funny, and wise. Long ingrained familial tensions boil to the surface Peter, Karen, and Jamie struggle to treasure their time together. With great empathy, “In the Garden” expresses the seemingly impossible range of reactions and choices adult children have when a parent should not live alone.

It is really powerful to watch a play together as an entry point to having a conversation about a difficult topic. There is so much stigma, fear, and isolation associated with a dementia diagnosis and that is certainly understandable. By seeing a short play together, an audience will be able to think about the characters they just saw on stage and dive into a conversation about their story. It is a great entry point to better understanding the resource strengths and challenges here in Eau Claire County.

Attendees are asked to arrive between 5:15-5:30 for a light dinner together. At 6:00, we will watch a short play called “In the Garden” and after the play there will be small group conversations about the play and our community resources — both the strengths and the opportunities.

The play is Tuesday, May 14th from 5:30 – 7:30 at Bethesda Lutheran Church here in Eau Claire.

Registration is required by going online to the ADRC at adrcevents.org or calling at 715-839-4735 and there is no cost to attend.