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Helen Rochford-Brennan is narrator of newly-launched “hear/say” book of stories on ageing and dementia

Thursday 05 December 2019

The hear/say project began as a collaboration between the Memory and Aging Center (MAC) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Voice of Witness, in 2016. The goal was to create a space for people with dementia, carers, doctors, family members, researchers, nurses, artists, and others to share “stories of aging, dementia, art, work, and life”. They wanted to shed light on the personal and rarely heard day-to-day experiences of ageing and dementia, and help reduce the stigma and “othering” that occurs by perpetuating a “single story”. The project expanded in 2018 to include the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and work directly with the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health, an international cohort dedicated to protecting the world’s ageing populations from threats to brain health. The expansion also included the making of a documentary film, in collaboration with Cynthia Stone Media.

A second volume of hear/say has now been published, for which GBHI partners at Trinity College Dublin were brought in to incorporate a global perspective on healthcare, memory, and ageing. The stories in this volume contain themes of loss, love, joy, compassion and more, with Helen Rochford-Brennan, Chairperson of the European Working Group of People with Dementia (EWGPWD) as narrator. As part of her involvement in this project, she was filmed during the 29th Alzheimer Europe Conference in The Hague, in October 2019 (pictured). This footage forms part of the upcoming documentary.

Helen Rochford-Brennan expresses the rationale for the book, thus: “So many times people have come up and said, ‘You’re telling my story. That is how my life is, but I’ve always been afraid to say it.’ And I say to them, ‘You know, you go and become an advocate just like me because you are going to help somebody else. Your voice is just as important as my voice.’”

The book launch took place in Dublin on 5 December 2019. The hear/say team is a collaboration between the Global Brain Health Institute and Voive of Witness which include Cliff Mayotte, Jennifer Merrilees, Lorina Naci, Caroline Prioleau, Cynthia Stone, Dominic Trépel & Erin Vong