Pili brings dementia into focus

Jose and Pilar Garcia preparing a meal
Jose and Pilar Garcia preparing a meal

A Southwell photographer is hoping that a poignant image of her father helping to prepare a family meal will encourage more people with dementia to come forward to help research into the condition.

Pili Garcia-Wilkinson, 44, and her father Jose, 84, who was diagnosed with dementia two-and-a-half years ago, registered with Join Dementia Research after seeing a national appeal for volunteers.

Pili and Jose Garcia

Pili and Jose Garcia

They were subsequently matched to a study called IDEAL, which aims to discover what can help people to live well with dementia.

A photograph of Jose - taken by Pili’s husband Bry - showing the pensioner helping his wife Pilar prepare a dish from their native Spain, also formed part of the Food Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Mall Gallery in London.

The image, entitled Memories, Food, Love and Vulnerability, was highly commended in the exhibition’s Philip Harben award earlier this year.

Pili, who runs a professional photography business with her husband, came forward as part of Dementia Awareness Week, which runs from May 18th to 24th, told Chad: “My father was always very fit and active and happiest when he was pottering in the garden.

“He acted as the carer for my mother who has mobility problems, and managed the house and the family finances until we started to notice a deterioration.

“After my father was officially diagnosed it was rather isolating, so we were keen to do whatever we could to help him to live well with dementia. Becoming involved in the IDEAL study through Join Dementia Research has given my father and I something very positive to focus on, reassured that we may be helping to answer some of remaining questions around dementia with the hope that we can find an eventual cure.”

Join Dementia Research allows anyone with and without memory problems to sign up with their location and relevant health information and be matched to studies in their area, of which there are five open in the East Midlands and this number is growing all the time.

Research teams whose studies are recruiting using Join Dementia Research can then approach them about their particular study and the volunteer can decide whether to take part on a case-by-case basis.

It’s also possible for someone to register on behalf of someone who may not be able to register themselves, acting as a representative.

Based within the Institute of Mental Health in Nottingham, Prof Tom Dening, Speciality Lead for Dementia, Clinical Research Network: East Midlands said: “We still have a long way to go to spread the word about Join Dementia Research but the fantastic response we’ve seen so far is indicative of the importance of dementia and research to the wider public.”

People are being asked to sign up online at www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk or contact Alzheimer’s Research UK on 0300 1115111) or the Alzheimer’s Society on 0300 222 1122.