About.. Who Cares? An ethnodrama about caregiving, feeding family, love and survival

photo cmclean c.

“Who Cares?” 

An ethnodrama, research based true stories of caregiving, feeding family, love and survival

Written by, Cheryl L. McLean

Producer Lead Researcher, Catherine Morley

On September 23 at 7:00 p.m.  at the Denton theatre, Acadia University, Nova Scotia, we will  present a preview version of a larger ethnodrama currently in development, “a taste of” that Dr. Catherine Morley, lead researcher on this project, and I hope will eventually become a full length ethnodrama adapted later for film. (see info. about the “Who Cares” cast and team) The ethnodrama genre as an art form brings together the two worlds of ethnography and drama.   It is a written research based play script made up of performances consisting of selections of narrative created and adapted from actual interview transcripts, memories and personal stories. The common thread that weaves through these stories is that they are based on lived experiences, accounts and events reflecting the lives of real people. The names of the individuals you will meet have been changed to protect their identities.

These are stories about informal caregivers, caregiving for older family members. The Institute for Research on Public Policy describes informal caregivers as family members, friends or neighbours,… who provide unpaid care to a person who needs support due to a disability, illness or other difficulty, sometimes for extended periods. In their unpaid jobs, they are likely to incur out-of-pocket expenses and can experience significant lifetime income losses. Such personal costs can negatively impact the caregivers’ economic security, health and well-being and they commonly experience stress, social isolation and guilt.

Informal caregivers are, for the most part, 45 years of age or older representing 2.7 million Canadians.

They often have multiple responsibilities and provide assistance despite ongoing work and family demands. In Canada one in four informal caregivers who provides support to older people are themselves 65 years of age or older.

Some 40 million people in the United States are currently age 65 or older and this number is expected to climb to 89 million by 2050.

I was there for the birth of TV, Howdy Doody, Sputnik,man on the moon, the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy’s assassination, The Beatles, the women’s movement, ….   a baby boomer. I can’t afford not to care. This is my parents’ story and in the future it could be my story.

Why should we care about aging and things like feeding when eating is so common, so natural so very simple? Something we’ve been doing forever, all our lives. One fact that may surprise you is that today malnutrition risk is 37% among Canadian seniors. The truth is  if we fed people better today they wouldn’t be as ill tomorrow, if we fed people better they would have a better quality of life, if we fed people better and provided optimal support to those who care for others now.. we could create conditions to allow seniors to remain safe at home longer rather than living in institutions.

These are true stories about the people who care, caring for and feeding elderly relatives, and the flesh and blood challenges they face every day to keep their relatives well, often fighting incredible odds, alone, while providing a lifeline for those they love. You will hear stories about food and its emotional connections to people and learn what eating and feeding can mean in relationships. In this preview, this “taste of” you will also hear briefly from some of the professionals who seek to support caregivers and help address their challenges. You will witness the honesty, the courage and transparency expressed in these stories as people share feelings that have been unheard publicly until they are revealed on stage during our performances.   We invite you to meet people who care as they bring life to their personal stories and assure others that they are not alone and that what they are stepping into as caregivers is not at all easy. In the sharing  of these stories the invisible becomes visible and in this transformative and embodied act, there is still hope for change.

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