Paalala: An Interactive Exhibit About Dementia That Affects Many Filipino Homes
by Jace Amodo, December 01, 2019 11:57am
Collage by Ahl Mirambel
About 15 to 25 percent of people reaching 85 years old suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, amounting to 11 million people worldwide. And yet, there's no cure for it. As the disease progresses and our beloved lolos and lolas suffer, the family hurts just as much and just as fast—this scenario was perfectly captured by Alaska Milk Corporation through an equally heartwarming and heartbreaking video.
To further spread awareness on Alzheimer's Disease and how the closest of kin can get through it, Alaska partnered up with the Noli Alzheimer's and Elderly Care Center in installing Paalala, an art exhibit that mimics the effects of dementia.
Designed by mixed-media artist Candice Alipio, Paalala shows a sculpture of a grandmother and her grandchild bonding over a holiday feast. In our interview with Dra. Rosa Carpio, the founder of Noli Alzheimer's and Elderly Care Center and daughter to a 95-year-old mother with Alzheimer's Disease, she reveals that the rate of families reaching out for help with their parents who suffer from dementia increases during the holidays.
Our lolos and lolas might have trouble expressing their thoughts and even completing their sentences so they become angry when the conversation seems like a one-way street. As a rule of thumb for affected families: reassure, never lecture and repeat, never say "I already told you."
"Imagine forgetting about your spouse, your kids, or even yourself. Imagine living in constant anguish because you've forgotten the most basic things, like the use of utensils, Or the fact that you're in the middle of putting on a shirt," shares Dra. Rosa Carpio.
Paalala relies heavily on tens of hundreds of meters of yarn, which begs to be pulled apart as if it's pulling a mirror on how dementia unravels memories: slow and excruciating. But when all strands are pulled and the sculpture is left with its skeleton, we'll learn that a bright red heart remains at its core, telling us that in the wake of dementia, memories made with the heart stays.
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For our part, we can tie the string we pulled around our finger as both a reminder of those who have difficulty remembering and a means to raise awareness on the disease. So pull your yarn and unravel the message Paalala wants to deliver. It is open until November 30 at the Ayala Malls Feliz in Marikina City, but its impact will last forever.