Old couple on a bench looking out to sea

Living longer & better: Head Space 2018

25 April 2018
4 min read

A two-day symposium in Trinity College is creatively examining brain health and dementia from 27-28 April.

Far from mere hobbies, stress relief or extra-curricular activities, engaging ourselves in creative tasks may actually be providing huge benefits when it comes to maintaining our brain health and offsetting the advances of dementia. With the average life expectancy set to rise to 90 years of age by the year 2030, it’s little wonder that health experts are creatively investigating just how we’re ageing and what support we’ll likely need as we reach these unprecedented milestones.

The April symposium, Head Space 2018, probes whether we can we live longer and better and aims to celebrate the scientific and creative advancements made in the realm of brain health and dementia. Hosted by Creative Aging International in collaboration with the Creative Ireland Programme, the symposium is open to everyone and boasts an impressive diversity of speakers and topics. The symposium’s two days focus on two separate themes, Friday 27 April outlines existing territory and activity in the field, while Saturday 28 April shines light on emergent thinking and growing momentum.

One of the highlights of Friday’s programme (3.45-4.45pm) will see creativity, age and wellbeing discussed by Kate de Medeiros of Miami University; GP Austin O’Carroll; and Des O’Neill, Professor of Medical Gerontology, TCD, National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital. Chaired by co-founder of Creative Aging International Dominic Campbell, this session asks ‘If culture trumps strategy how might culture change occur?’.

Kate de Medeiros’ research studies have examined the meaning of place and living alone; friendships among people living with dementia; suffering, flourishing and precarity; as well as language ‘play’ in the participatory arts. Austin O’Carroll’s career has been driven by improving access for communities affected by the marginalisation or deprivation of quality primary healthcare. Professor Desmond O’Neill is a specialist in geriatric and stroke medicine, his practice and research are focused on ageing and neuroscience, and how they interact with humanities.

The April symposium, Head Space 2018, probes whether we can we live longer and better and aims to celebrate the scientific and creative advancements made in the realm of brain health and dementia.

On Saturday (10.30-11.45am), explore creativity as a tool in wellbeing strategy as speakers Kevin O’Shanahan, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare/MusicAlive; David Slater, Entelechy Arts; and Lenny White, The Dementia Friendly Mobile Barber, delve into creative and innovative approaches from local perspectives.

Kevin O’Shanahan is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in mental health and the arts. Kevin is also a co-founder of MusicAlive, providers of innovative arts and health projects in the realms of mental health and older age care. Artistic director of Entelechy Arts, London, David Slater is one of the joint architects of the award-winning Meet Me at the Albany programme which supports isolated older people in collaborating with artists to make new, meaningful work. Lenny White provides a barbering service for residential care homes, care centres, hospitals, nursing homes or anyone who finds it difficult to access the services themselves.

Also on Saturday’s schedule (3-4pm), speakers Michael O’Reilly, Creative Ireland and Kate O’Flaherty, Healthy Ireland, examine how we can build on existing activity happening in the country and find opportunities to contribute further. This session is followed by an open discussion.

Michael O’Reilly is a lawyer with an extensive background in legal practice, arts and culture, policy development, political consultancy, governance and strategic planning. Kate O’Flaherty is Head of Health and Wellbeing in the Department of Health. She coordinates the implementation of the Healthy Ireland Framework, a major Government-led initiative aimed at improving health and wellbeing.

In addition to Head Space’s schedule of in-depth discussions, a number of Dublin Culture Connects and Dublin City Council’s The National Neighbourhood initiatives will also be showcased. Tonnta Vocal Ensemble and Hollybrook Lodge Residential Care Centre will premiere a new work by musician Robbie Blake, created in collaboration with Hollybrook Lodge residents. Artist Sean Millar and Bluebell Youth and Community Centre will also show their work in progress piece. While musicians Sinead White and Cian Finlay collaborate with young adults from Walk, Walkinstown to perform their exciting musical work in progress too.

See the full Head Space 2018 schedule here.

Head Space 2018 events are free but ticketed, see Event Brite for booking details.