With over 55 million people living with dementia worldwide, most people know that memory loss is one of the main symptoms of the illness. However, very few know that in actual fact, severe anxiety is just as much an issue - sitting in the shadows every single day.
Misplacing or losing things… not knowing where you are for a moment… misidentifying family as strangers - it is a 24/7 problem that also adds to the fast decline of sufferers. As their brains change, the anxiety of navigating the world around them heightens - and after watching my Grandma suffer for so long, I wanted to reconnect her with her memories, whilst soothing her daily anxieties.
Using the current trend of adult colouring and its application for anxiety and stress as a basis, I combined it with personal photos, to create a colouring book in which my Grandma could sit and remember without pressure or stress - in turn alleviating some of the the anxiety from day and unlocking forgotten memories.
The design had to be simple which was a challenge in itself, however I settled on giving subtle colour prompts and a short sentence with each colourful memory to lessen the pressure on the reader. Currently the colouring books are in the form of worksheets that can be printed out at home for ease of participation.
The success was apparent to me immediately, if it could help my Grandma feel calmer and remember, the project was a success. But after seeing how the books really opened conversations between my Grandma and my mum page by page, I felt that the ‘project’ couldn’t stop here.
I wanted to produce it for the masses, so entered it into D&AD to get help on how to produce the books on a larger scale - due to the hand drawn photos, I couldn’t really scale the business myself. So far, I am still working on scaling it up - drawing the memories myself and making worksheets for individuals that request them. Technology will hopefully soon catch up to digitise the drawing stage of the production of such old photos.
This project stretched every part of my abilities and emotions to the max. It required discipline and organisation as a leader, whilst also challenging my problem solving skills as a creative & designer.
I will keep pushing myself to find solutions to the mass production of the worksheets, in order to help as many people as possible - but until then, I remain the sole creator of A Colourful Life - and should you like a book, do not hesitate to get in touch!
D&AD Award - Wood Pencil