You are currently viewing Art & Alzheimers: Dementia Awareness through Visual Storytelling

Art & Alzheimers: Dementia Awareness through Visual Storytelling

Episode #31October 27, 2020

In 2006, Gina Martin’s mother, Diane, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and died 5 years later. In a tragic yet poetic twist of fate, her father died 3 months later on his birthday of a “broken heart”.

To honor her parents and raise awareness about dementia, Gina created the Bob and Diane Fund, which grants a $5,000 award each November to an artist depicting the dementia journey through the lens of photography.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll learn from my interview with Gina Martin:

  • [05:31] Gina Martin shares about the inspiration for creating the Bob and Diane Fund
  • [11:11] Each November, the Bob and Diane Fund offers a $5,000 grant to a photographer telling a visual story of dementia. Gina describes the selection process and the esteemed group of judges.
  • [18:28] Visual stories of dementia are touching and compelling. Gina shares a little background on each of the past grantees (see photos below).
  • [23:17] Gina describes a photo contest the Bob and Diane Fund had for people living with dementia called, Still Living. Learn more and see the winners below.
  • [31:04] Learn how to apply to the Bob and Diane Fund grant. Hurry! The application deadline is November 1, 2020.
  • [35:30] Gina shares some of her favorite tips for ways that you can show support to friends and family who are living with dementia. (Pssst, they’re great during COVID)

About Gina Martin & the Bob and Diane Fund

Gina Martin was a dementia daughter until 2011 when her mom with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease passed away followed by the sudden passing of her father 3 months later. In memory of her parents and as a professional in the world of visual storytelling for 21 years at National Geographic, Gina created the Bob and Diane Fund to provide grants to photographers depicting the experience of living with a dementia disorder.

  • Website –
  • Twitter – @bobanddianefund
  • Instagram – @bobanddianefund
  • Facebook – @bobanddianefund

The Bob and Diane Fund Grantees

2019 Grantee: Sofie Mathiesen

2018 Grantee: Stephen DiRado

2017 Grantee: Chris Nunn

2016 Grantee: Maja Daniels

Still Living Contest (2019): Life through the lens of dementia

Photo contest for people living with dementia.

Winner: Elia Luciani of Canada (from Italy)

Winner: Cynthia Huling Hummel of New York

Winner: Pauline Singier of France

Gina Martin 0:00
My goal - it's to obviously bring awareness to the family, but also to bring awareness to society and to their friends and to the people in their lives. Because that's where I think the breakdown is where people, extended family and family outside the home, do not truly understand what it's like for a loved one who lives with them or their children. I think people think of dementia as just forgetting, forgetting to turn off the coffeemaker and it is so much more than that. And instead of getting frustrated with people not understanding, I thought, "Okay, well, what can I do that try to help bring awareness to this?"

Dr. Regina Koepp 0:51
I'm Dr. Regina Koepp. I'm a board certified clinical psychologist and I specialize with older adults and families. I created the psychology of aging podcast to answer some of the most common questions I get about aging, questions about mental health and wellness, changes in the brain like with dementia, relationships and sex, caregiving, and even end of life. Like I say in my therapy group, no topic is off topic, we just have to have a healthy way of talking about it. So if you're an older adult, or caring for one, you're in the right place. Let's get started.

Dr. Regina Koepp 1:33
Did you know that by 2034, there will be more adults 65 and older than children under the age of 18. Let me break that down. In 14 years, there will be more older adults than children in the United States. It is imperative that mental health medical and senior care providers know how to effectively address the mental health and sexual health needs of older adults. For more than 15 years, I've been providing mental health care to older adults and their families. And I'm happy to share that I am now offering consultation and training to mental health and senior care communities. As you know, best practices call for a multidisciplinary approach to care. And so I have partnered with my best friend and colleague, Dr. Lisa Frank, who is a Board Certified psychiatrist, and who specializes in older adults. Together, Dr. Frank and I consult with medical and mental health and senior care communities in three ways. We offer clinical consultation. So if you're struggling with cases, both mental health and sexual health cases for older adults, we provide information and feedback using evidence space and best practice models. We also consult on program development. So if you're wanting to build a senior behavioral health clinic for your agency, we can help with that. And then one of my favorite things is training for staff. Some of the most popular trainings that I offer include training providers on core competencies and working with older adults and mental health care and training senior care providers on sexuality and dementia. You can learn more about working with us by visiting my website I'll put a link in the show notes because that's a lot to remember. So head on over to the show notes and check it out and learn more about some of the services that we offer.

Dr. Regina Koepp 3:41
Today's episode is a special one because today, we are intersecting art, culture and dementia. I don't know about you, but when I see pictures, I am instantly transported to a story. And stories, for me, are actually one of the reasons that I became so interested in working with older adults and families living with dementia. And so this is where I really relate to our guests today. Let me tell you about her. Gina Martin was a dementia daughter until 2011 when her mom with early onset Alzheimer's disease passed away, followed by the sudden passing of her father just three months later. In memory of her parents, and as a professional in the world of visual storytelling, where for 21 years Gina has worked at National Geographic, Gina created the Bob and Diane fund to provide grants to photographers depicting the experience of living with the dementia disorder. I don't know about you, but when I hear stories and see images, watch documentaries, see photographs, I'm instantly transported to a more intimate and emotional place. And what I think Gina's fund is trying to capture is just the intimacy and real life experience shared in the form of visual storytelling. And it is beautiful. So let's jump into this episode. And Gina will tell you all about her fund and how to participate if you're interested. Or if you have some photographs and you'd like to apply for her grant. Alright, let's jump right in. Tell us about the Bob and Diane fund and how you created that.

Gina Martin 5:31
So in 20, oh, gosh, when did my mom get diagnosed? I think 2006 - about - my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She was 65 years old, which is pretty young. And we, I hate saying it this way, but we were somewhat fortunate in the fact that she only lived with it for five years. That's not very long, and one to two years where it was a strain on the family. But my mom died knowing who we were. So we're fortunate for that. So she passed away on Halloween 2011. So the anniversary is coming up. Yeah, so she passed away in 2011. And then my father, they were high school sweethearts. They've been together since they were 17, I think juniors in high school. And they had a happy marriage. They were together, just shy of 50 years of... married, I should say - they were together longer than that. And my dad was a very loyal caregiver to her. He was great. And he died just three months later, of a broken heart. It was his 71st birthday. And it was their first birthday not together since they were 17. So my brother took him to dinner, he gave him a little cake. He made a wish, blew out the candle and he dropped dead within the hour...

Dr. Regina Koepp 7:00
on his actual birthday birthday... Wow.

Gina Martin 7:03
And we were convinced that he wanted to be with my mom. So it was very unexpected.

Dr. Regina Koepp 7:11
That must have just been heartbreaking for you and your family when your dad died.

Gina Martin 7:15
It was. It was also kind of the perfect ending to their love story. And that's how I was able to deal with it. Yeah, I didn't want my dad to grow old without my mom. I could have handled my mom growing old without my dad, that would have been much easier. So it just yeah, it was kind of just a perfect ending.

Dr. Regina Koepp 7:42
Wow. How powerful.

Gina Martin 7:44
Yeah, I was fortunate though I had great parents. Not everyone does. And I always say my parents were not my best friends. But I definitely respected and admired them. And I was very lucky. I had amazing parents for 43 years. And so many people can't say that. So I I really looked at that during the mourning process. I definitely mourned them. But I handled it much better than I ever thought I would. For that reason alone. And then about five years ago, I thought about giving... So I've been at National Geographic, it'll be 21 years in January. And I always support photographers, I buy their books, I buy their prints, I help them out. I've always done that. So I wanted to support them. And I had some money that I was, you know, that I could use to support some photographers and I was thinking of ways to do it. So, a friend of mine said, "Why don't you start a fund and have it focused on Alzheimer's and named after your parents," which never occurred to me. And he said, "named after my mom," but I wanted to name it after both of them because it really did affect both of them. And I wanted to honor my dad just as much as my mom. So the Bob and Diane fund was created in 2016. And so our main goals... we've done a few things. We give a $5,000 grant each year to a photographer worldwide who is already working on a story, a visual story related to Alzheimer's or dementia. And through our talk, I'll probably say Alzheimer's more but it really is any form of dementia. My mom just happened to have Alzheimer's. So the money is to help them finish photographing it or help them get it published into a book form or help to pay for the exhibit. But it's to help get the word out there. I, as someone who's been with National Geographic this long, I do believe that visual storytelling does make a difference and can teach people and make people aware and change perceptions and change policy. And so that's kind of why I started it.

Dr. Regina Koepp 10:06
Now I understand why photography, yes, there's a special interest.

Gina Martin 10:10
Yeah, I've always loved photography since early high school maybe even earlier than that. And yeah, and I, you know, I collect photography, I collect photo books, I collect prints, I have a huge collection of both. And photographers always when they're in town, especially meeting at National Geographic, they come through to my house. So I'm always around photographers. And it's a very difficult business, and I wanted to find a way to financially help them. But then being able to also focus on my other passion, which is alzheimers and dementia...

Dr. Regina Koepp 10:49
...and honoring your parents in such a beautiful way.

Gina Martin 10:51

Dr. Regina Koepp 10:52
It is so beautiful. When I was looking at the past recipients of the... past awardees, is that what I say? Grantees?

Gina Martin 11:00

Dr. Regina Koepp 11:01
Each of them is really their own unique voice and vision. And they're so beautiful, and really moving.

Gina Martin 11:11
Yeah, we've been really fortunate on the work that is submitted every year because when I started this, I had no idea if there was anything out there. I didn't know if the first year it's gonna get five submissions or hundreds. Because again, it has to be existing work. So we get... in the first year we took video, but we decided not to after that, because it's too difficult to compare video to stills. So it's still, as of now, stills only. So we get between 50 and 70 submissions a year, which I think is pretty strong. We average about 25 countries a year. And these are from countries... I just was so surprised. We get submissions from so all over the world. All over. In fact, of the five that we've given, only one has been in the U.S. So we have submissions right now until Sunday, until November 1, and then we will judge them. And then we announce the winner every November, which is National caregivers month. So that part honors my dad. But each year, I'm always amazed by the the work. It is just so touching and different. Each one is so unique, and personal. And so sometimes it is really hard to choose a winner. It takes us like four hours to judge it. And the last one to two hours can be just over two separate projects. "Which one is it going to be?"

Dr. Regina Koepp 12:52
What is your process for judging?

Gina Martin 12:55
Well, this year will be different because of COVID. But we, my three board members, are in DC. But two of them always judge. Sarah lien who was the former director of photography for National Geographic, and Chip Somadevilla who is a Getty Images, staff photographer, and then we usually have a guest judge. So, because one of our other board members doesn't - that's not her thing to judge images - we've had the director of photography for The Washington Post, for NPR, for AARP... So we've been very, very fortunate this year, I think I'm going to judge them. I usually don't. But just because of COVID it's going to be more difficult. So I've got to figure that out.

Dr. Regina Koepp 13:40
What is your role at National Geographic?

Gina Martin 13:42
I work for the photo agency. So, I license photographers' work to third parties. So, magazines, books, textbooks, an exhibit... So, I represent their work.

Dr. Regina Koepp 13:53
Oh, yeah. So, they all come through you? You see them all?

Gina Martin 13:56
Yeah. And this is so different from what I usually look at in some of these projects. Some are very photojournalism. Some are more fine art. Some are just portraits. So each project, and there's no specific thing you have to do, like people have asked what kind of work it's anything related to Alzheimer's, it could be very scientist based. It could be just portraits. It could be very abstract. We've had some very abstract ones. So it just has to have something to do with dementia in some form.

Dr. Regina Koepp 14:32
Mm hmm. It's so spectacular. You know, I think one in nine people over 65 will develop Alzheimer's disease. And your mom, I think from reading about her and her age and how accelerated her disease process was, sounds like she had early onset dementia, which is very rapidly progressing and just how important it is to get information and education to folks about dementia disorders, and I really admire your take on it that your mom had dementia and your dad also lived with dementia, I was deeply impacted by it. And really, that's how I also conceptualize working with families with dementia disorders is that the family is the client, the family is the person living with the dementia loved one most.

Gina Martin 15:28
And my dad's mother had it, but for a very short time... probably longer than we realize. But that we were aware of, she had for a year to a year and a half, then she suddenly died. So we were not exposed to it for very long. And so I don't always consider having that as experience. My mom was truly... I was able to experience what it's like. But my goal is not to obviously bring awareness to the family, but also to bring awareness to society, and to their friends, and to the people in their lives. Because that's where I think the breakdown is - where people, extended family and family outside the home, do not truly understand what it's like for a loved one who lives with them or their children. I think people think of dementia as just forgetting, forgetting to turn off the coffeemaker. And it is so much more than that. And instead of getting frustrated with people not understanding, I thought, "Okay, well, what can I do that try to help bring awareness to this?" Because I'll just add real quick, we're very fortunate, in fact, because of what I did for work, that I have a lot of connections in the publishing world. So, first announced our grant, for the very first grant, it announced the winner. And then after that, Washington Post announces it every year in print and online. And then the New York Times has published it in print, NPR online, Huffington Post. And then newspapers all over the world, magazines and online publications. So we get amazing press every year, because it's the only grant of its kind. And we have people from all over applying. So, I really try to network out to the country that that person's from, and try to get it published in their local papers. So we're pretty fortunate that we do get good press, which is the whole thing. I want it to bring awareness, not just to the people working on the project, but to the to the world.

Dr. Regina Koepp 17:53
So essential, I experienced exactly what you're talking about. I work with so many families that come into my office and will tell me, nobody really understands what we're going through, nobody really understands what it's like to care for somebody with dementia or even the earlier stages of dementia where there is more insight to live with the dementia disorder. And that you are 100% right that the majority of people think that it's a normal part of aging, and it's just forgetfulness. And it is indeed not.

Gina Martin 18:23

Dr. Regina Koepp 18:24
Gina, tell us about some of the previous recipients.

Gina Martin 18:28
Yeah, so our first year, in 2016, we announced the winner in November was Maja Daniels. She's a Swedish photographer, who did this gorgeous story in a hospital in France. And it was a - what do you call it - kind of a part of a wing of a hospital, but it was a locked... I can't think of the word I'm looking for right now. But where the patients obviously couldn't leave. And so she was able to get behind the doors in the unit. And she would photograph these patients living with Alzheimer's, standing at that locked door, which had two windows, two small windows, and they would just stand there some with their suitcases with bags, waiting for their loved ones to come who probably weren't coming. And she did it in such a beautiful way as tragically sad as those images are she also was able to photograph it beautifully. And, I think, with dignity, and yeah, I was so honored to have that work as our first grantee work. It's just some of my favorite work. And then the second year Chris Nunn. He is a photographer based out of the UK. He had met this gentleman, he was older and an artist in their area, a painter, I think, in his town, where he lives in the UK, and I think in New York. And I think Chris noticed that he maybe had dementia or they met at a grocery store. And Chris asked if he could start photographing him. And so a friendship was built, and he documented just beautifully of this gentleman in his home, and the loneliness and kind of blocking people out of his life. And it's just done so intimately. And this was someone he didn't know. But he had met him and, you know, asked to photograph him. And then Stephen DiRado was our third grantee and his work is so lovely. It's called "With Dad" and it's photographing his father. And Chris, or I'm sorry, Stephen had been photographing his father and his family for years with a large format camera. And so the project begins when Stephen is, you know, early adult, very early, I think, till his father passed away. So there's, I don't know, maybe 20 years of documentation there. But a lot of them were set up because he's using a large format camera. So, beautiful portrait work, some images with the two of them, and with the family, but definitely more created. He had to create those moments or to capture them with a large format camera.

Dr. Regina Koepp 21:34
...And then the most recent one, there was a caregiving one... a husband and a wife.

Gina Martin 21:39
Yeah. Sophie Mathiesen. She is Danish, I think. And it was of her grandparents. It is such...I love that work. I absolutely love it. And it was of her... grandfather? Yeah, grandfather. I'm accepting submissions now. So I've been looking at so...

Dr. Regina Koepp 22:03
Sure, everything's meshing.

Gina Martin 22:05
Yes. But, uh, yeah, her... that work is just so beautiful. And again, intimate, and personal. And she's just been such a pleasure... working with all of them. All, the grantees have just been so appreciative of this grant. And just, you know, I'll set them up with publications to talk to, and they're just always so willing to do what they can to support the fund, and to share, to bring awareness. So I've been very fortunate.

Dr. Regina Koepp 22:40
Yeah, they each have a tenderness and such a tribute to humanity and connection. I think that's one of the... I had all of these misconceptions before I got into the field of dementia. I had all these misconceptions that I don't want to work with anybody with dementia, that I'm not going to be able to communicate with them, I'm not going to be able to connect with them. Connection's really important to me.

Gina Martin 23:03

Dr. Regina Koepp 23:03
And I'm so glad that I pursued this career anyway, because there is so much humanity and connection. And these photographers really capture the tenderness and the intimacy and the affection.

Gina Martin 23:17
It's interesting for you to say that because we did - we started this last year, but we couldn't do it this year, because of COVID. But we did a photo contest called "Still Living," for photo stills, and they're still living for people living with Alzheimer's or dementia. And we chose three winners, and we gave $500 each. And it was, it was great. And the reason why I wanted to do it is I've met people, more people since I've been involved in this, who are living with this disease, who still contribute to society, who still have a voice, who still, you know, they... so many people are always speaking for them, that they're still able to do this. So I wanted to do this photo contest, and it was for what inspires you. And so we have people living with it, who sent in just one or two photos. And we just chose it by one image. And it was great. I really enjoyed doing it. But this year was more difficult because of people not being able to visit. Yeah. And help them with the files.

Dr. Regina Koepp 24:29
Yeah, I think that's so important. There is a movement, you know, creating dementia friendly communities just acknowledging people with dementia and the contributions they continue to make to society. And you're offering a grant to take still images, just for folks living with dementia to offer still images as a contribution to art. It's a really beautiful thing.

Gina Martin 24:57
People thought, "Oh, you don't have to give them anything but wanted to." And the reason why I did $500 was for tax purposes. We didn't have to... I didn't want to have to ask elderly people with dementia for their social security numbers or their home address, because that's just scary for them. So I didn't want to make that uncomfortable. So, under 500, you don't have to be taxed on it. And that was the reason why I chose that. That amount of money. Yeah, because I just, you know, if a woman, person with Alzheimer's calls her daughter and says, "Oh, I just sent in my social security to this woman," her mother, her daughter would have had a heart attack. So that was the reason and they want to, they want to win something, they want to have that excitement of whether they... I had a gentleman who is living with dementia, he's a writer. And he said, My contest got him back into shooting again. And he said, even though he didn't win, it just brought him so much joy. And it got him interested in photography again. And I loved that. I thought that was so important. Because you know, the people, like I've said, I've met a few people who still sometimes you won't even know that they have to disease. That obviously affects people differently. Yeah, they're getting ignored. And this was something that they can contribute to and be excited about.

Dr. Regina Koepp 26:25
I love it. And you know, it really also fits with the mission of my podcast. My podcast mission is to include older adults and adults with disabilities and with dementia into the conversation around mental health and wellness. You're doing that with art, and photography, and more creative spaces, which is so - it's fabulous. Because, of course, artists and photographers get dementia. Yeah. And, and need a sense of belonging and a sense of contribution of their art. Yeah. And because we're human, and they are human. And so I really appreciate that you're including folks with dementia in the conversation around photography, still image.

Gina Martin 27:10
Oh, thank you. Yeah. And then one other thing that we do is we do scholarships for photography workshops, and there's many out there in the photo community. But what I want to do more was focus on non Western photographers who have more opportunities to do things like that. So we give a scholarship to the it's called a foundry photojournalism workshop, and they do most of their workshops in non Western countries. So Nepal, and Bangladesh and India, and I think they did Africa - our country in Africa, I can't remember which one - and so we open up a scholarship to photographers from those areas, from India, who may not be able to go to Nepal. So, or I should say, can't afford to go to Nepal, they can go. And we've given out three scholarships, and then they have to photograph a story for that week about someone with dementia. And then we get those images for social media. And it's great. And then if it's something they've enjoyed, they can then apply for the grant because they've got a body of work. They may not be able to finish it where that was, but they can start a project in their hometown or something. So I've really enjoyed doing that. Because it's given opportunity to some photographers who don't always get these type of opportunities. I mean, as we know, dementia is worldwide. So there are so many stories out there that need to be told.

Dr. Regina Koepp 28:48
Yes. And so timely, you know, the World Health Organization has started in the last couple of years the Anti ageism campaign, I think, connected to that is an anti ableism message. And, and I think, you know, the more you can get these messages into developing countries and resources and opportunities for artists and people living with dementia in developing countries and non Western countries, how exciting that it's so in line with an anti ablest kind of message and an anti ageist message, and really promoting, you know, health and humanity and connection in art. And really bringing it all together. It's so it's fantastic.

Gina Martin 29:38
Thank you. People have asked like, what's next, and I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing. But as it I'm having it grow slowly, because I'm a one man, one woman person or you know, one band member. I do have someone who helps me with social media. But eventually I want to increase the grant which, you know, and do others. I would love to support emerging photographers to start work on this. But I also want to start working with nonprofits or organizations in developing countries where Alzheimer's is so taboo in many countries in Africa, and you don't talk about it, it's considered kind of a witchcraft type thing. And it's not understood at all. And I would love to support organizations in those countries to bring awareness to what dementia truly is.

Dr. Regina Koepp 30:37
And more resources for families... folks caring for family with dementia. Well, now, you mentioned that the grant deadline is coming up. It's on November 1. And then you announce the winners also in November.

Gina Martin 30:52
Yeah, I'm waiting to hear back from The Washington Post of their schedules. So it could be in print there. Yeah, they've been so good to us and so supportive.

Dr. Regina Koepp 31:04
So how can our listeners participate or so... the call for applications is still open. So if you are a photographer, and you have been doing a photo series on your loved one with dementia, you can submit an application.

Gina Martin 31:19
It's And it's right on the page... grant, and how to submit. And, you know, following us on our social medias and sharing if you know of a photographer who is just starting work, I mean, next year, it comes fast, you know, to prepare and get the work, start working on it and apply for next year, we usually open it up the end of August. And if you want to donate, you know, we have a donation page on our website.

Dr. Regina Koepp 31:52
Tell us about that.

Gina Martin 31:53
Yeah, so we were pretty good. I get most, I get a lot of donations through Facebook, which is great. But I do some small fundraisers during the year. And that's to help with... I put in the 5000 every year for the grant. But we do other things throughout the year. And I'm trying to also build it up more so we could start giving more money to photographers, but from the scholarships and the still living and like I said, I want to open up another one for merchant photographers. And this year we did a member... a mentorship for a photographer in the UK, who was the sole caregiver of his mother who just passed away within the last two weeks of dementia. And we gave him money to work on it. And one of our board members is mentoring him with the work. She was the former director of photography for National Geographic. So, that's been exciting. So that was something we weren't planning. But we saw the work. And we're like this is very important. And he couldn't, you know, so we decided to add an opportunity to be mentor.

Dr. Regina Koepp 33:04
Oh my God, somebody with that level of experience?!

Gina Martin 33:08
Yeah. So we're excited. And then once he's ready to get that out, we'll push it out to publish it. Because that's our main goal is to get this work out there.

Dr. Regina Koepp 33:18
Well, I would love to support you in, you know... on my platform, and you know, to let people know, even on social media about all the work that you're doing, so you have to keep me informed. So I can give folks information.

Gina Martin 33:31
Yeah, definitely.

Dr. Regina Koepp 33:32
Okay. So, people, all people need to do is go to the BobandDiane And also, what are some of your social media handles?

Gina Martin 33:40
They're all at Bob and Diane fund. We're on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Twitter's our most active. We post on that daily. And, you know, as you may know, there's a huge alzheimers dementia community, it's so big, and I've just met so many people through it. That's one thing when I decided to start this, I never thought I'd be this active in the community. And I thought I was just going to write a check once a year, not do a single thing, but this is... I work on this every day. But it's been amazing support and I get most of that interaction through Twitter. And yeah, it's a nice surprise and a nice little extra thing from starting this.

Dr. Regina Koepp 34:29
yeah, dementor families needed they need all the love and support they can get they have the highest rates of stress, the highest caregiving demands the highest expenses for caregiving. It is a lot on dementia caregivers. So I appreciate that you have received a lot of support there and that I hope that other people are as well.

Gina Martin 34:49
I did want to say the amount of time we've talked, which I'm not sure, every 65 seconds somebody has been diagnosed with dementia.

Dr. Regina Koepp 34:58
Yeah, it's important that we're all aware of it and are well informed. Yes. We've been talking for 37 minutes. So that's 37 people.

Gina Martin 35:08
Yeah, it's scary.

Dr. Regina Koepp 35:12
Yes. And thankfully, there are resources like yours, which tell the stories in a visual format. And then, also, by doing that, you're giving education and support to families living with dementia, and also to artists who want to share a human story.

Gina Martin 35:30
Also, if you know of somebody with the disease a neighbor, or colleague at work, just, you know, show empathy towards them of what you may not realize what they're going through. But if a neighbor, whenever someone's dealing, especially with their parent, right now, I say, make sure you have your neighbor's contact information, if you don't live with your parents, because if they see your mom walking out, kind of confused, they can call you, or you can call them. And I always encourage, you know, a lot of my friends are dealing with this now, to reach out to family. And whether it's your second cousin back, you know, really reach out and ask for help. But if you know someone who's going through it, just to ask them if there's anything you could do to help, whether it's sitting with a loved one for a while, so you can go the grocery store, or calling. I think phone calls are so important to the person if they can still speak because obviously when it gets really far along, you can't. But to call that loved one with it. Because that 15 minute phone call is such a good break for the caregiver. Yeah. And so I am a big advocate of that. I would email all my mom's girlfriends and say, please call her, call twice a day, if you have to just you could repeat the exact same stories. But that break is so good for my dad.

Dr. Regina Koepp 36:53
And good for your mom too. Yeah.

Gina Martin 36:55
Exactly.Yeah, yeah, it's good for both so...

Dr. Regina Koepp 36:58
Especially during COVID.

Gina Martin 37:00
Mm hmm. Yeah.

Dr. Regina Koepp 37:01
Even if you have dementia, if you're socially isolated, that disease will advance more quickly. Then, you'll have more symptoms.

Gina Martin 37:09
Yeah. And send cards and letters. And it gives them something to like, open when the mail comes. And my cousin who's going through it right now I do send her cards. And I think that's important.

Dr. Regina Koepp 37:21
It's essential.

Gina Martin 37:22
Yeah, hopefully, it's not in your family. But it definitely can be, you know, down the road, but really try to, you know, be there for a friend or a loved one who is going through it, and ask if there's something you could do to help.

Dr. Regina Koepp 37:38
You know, one thing that I have noticed is very helpful, also, as a provider in this world, I often want to meet with a family member separate from the person with dementia. But that's often not possible because the person with dementia can't sit alone in a waiting room, depending on the stage of illness. And so even offering to go with the caregiver to medical appointments, so the caregiver can break off and go meet with the providers privately for a few minutes.

Gina Martin 38:07
Yeah, that's great. It can be so helpful. Yeah, and there was a point where my mom just wouldn't leave my dad's side. I mean, he couldn't even use the restroom. She was just a shadow. And so that was the times where I would really encourage people just to call her and have thick skin. Because sometimes they're not pleasant. And you just have... once you get to know and understand the disease, it's not them. It's the disease. So you have to have thick skin. And you know, just roll with the punches. But that's what I would tell my mom's girlfriend if you don't have thick skin don't call.

Dr. Regina Koepp 38:43
Or watch a video of what happens to the brain before you call so you understand why it's happening.

Gina Martin 38:48
Yeah. Don't take it personally. Yeah, just I think more and more people need to understand what the disease is, it's so different than cancer. It doesn't affect the brain, you know, well, you can get brain cancer, obviously, but it doesn't affect the personality and who the person is.

Dr. Regina Koepp 39:08
Well, Gina, thank you so much for all that you're doing with your photography grant, the Bob and Diane fund, and, and just for spreading the message about the importance of community involvement and extended family and friends involvement and caring for a person with dementia and for caring for the caregiver.

Gina Martin 39:28
Yeah. Oh, thank you. This was such a nice conversation.

Dr. Regina Koepp 39:32
I cannot thank Gina enough for bringing together art and Alzheimers. I hope that you head over to the show notes and see some of the gorgeous photographs that Gina and I were talking about in today's episode. And also to learn more about how you can apply to be a grant recipient for some of your very own photography. Remember that the deadline for submitting an application for this Grant is November 1. And really it's like a portfolio series of a dementia visual story. If you don't have that this year, as Gina mentioned in the episode, you can prepare and apply for next year. I think she mentioned that the doors for the grant open for grant applications in August and are announced in November. So, if you do have something to submit, please head on over to the show notes. Look at some of the past recipients or past grantees, check out their gorgeous photographs, and then submit something of your very own and best of luck to you. And if you do that, DM me, email me and let me know that you did it. I'd love to see your artwork as well.

Dr. Regina Koepp 40:52
That's all for today. In wrapping up, please know that the information shared in this episode is for informational purposes only and does not take the place of licensed medical or mental health care. And don't forget to subscribe and leave a review. Subscriptions and reviews help people to find this show. And I think it's a pretty special show. All right. That's all for today. One last thing, a special thanks to Jhazzmyn Joiner our psychology of aging podcast for all you do. Lots of love to you and your family. Bye for now.

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