Narrator’s Introduction, Who Cares?

Thank you for joining us as we present a preview version of “Who Cares?”, an ethnodrama which is currently in development. We hope this work will eventually have an opportunity to develop further into a full length ethnodrama which will be adapted for film.

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, oral histories, facts, news and personal stories.  As I created and wrote the script for “Who Cares” a good portion of the research data provided and that I drew from, was based on interviews conducted with caregivers by Dr. Catherine Morley, Assistant Professor in The School of Nutrition and Dietetics at Acadia University, N.S.. Catherine is also an educator and engages in research to raise awareness about the causes, prevention and management of malnutrition in aging Canadians and those living with dementia or changed health status.  These are accounts and events reflecting the lives of real people.  Song lyrics and poetry are also based on lived experience.

Roles are played by actors and 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 caregivers’ economic security, health and well-being and, as a result, 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.

So who cares? I have lived through the birth of TV, Sputnik, Roy Rogers, man on the moon, the Cuban missile crisis, black power, Kennedy’s assassination, The Beatles, the women’s movement, …. Like some of you I am a baby boomer.   I can’t afford not to care. These are our  parents’ stories  and in the future they  could very well be our stories.

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 issue becomes even more critical when we consider one in seven Canadians is currently aged 65 or over. By 2036, nearly one in four Canadians will be a senior. 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.

These are true stories about the people who do care today, caring for and feeding their older 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 emotional connections to it and learn what eating and feeding can mean in relationships. In this preview, this “taste of” you will also hear 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, feelings that have been unheard publicly/ until today. We invite you to meet people who care /as we bring to life 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.

Cheryl McLean, Writer/Director “Who Cares”

Please join us on September 23, 2015 Denton Theatre, Acadia University, Nova Scotia  for a preview performance of “Who Cares” an ethnodrama about aging, caregiving, feeding family, love and survival.