© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

People Living With Dementia Tell Their Stories in ‘To Whom I May Concern’

Courtesy: Live Well
A scene from the production of To Whom I May Concern

About 75,000 people in Connecticut live with dementia. And in a stage production in Hartford, five of them are telling their stories. To Whom I May Concern is a readers-theater style performance – and part of an effort to invite those living with cognitive change to educate others about what they’re experiencing. 

Bob Savage received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis three years ago. He said each script for To Whom I May Concern begins with people meeting in a safe place.

“There’s no stigma there,” he said. “These groups are run by us … who have dementia … there’s nobody there telling us what to say.”

Personal storytelling and developing a script are not easy, said Savage.

“But we’re learning so much from each other,” he said. “This whole thing of helping each other afterwards is really a key element.”

To Whom I May Concern is a project of Live Well, in Southington, which provides services for those living with dementia in both residential and community settings. CEO Michael Smith said their mission is to reimagine how we age.

“One of the things that sets us apart in a movement to consider how we view people living with dementia differently,” he said, “is to invite them into the conversation and to partner with them around what it is that they’re looking for.”

Credit Tucker Ives / Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Public Radio
Dan Belonick, Bob Savage and Michael Smith

Counseling services director Dan Belonick says people who come to see To Whom I May Concern often leave with new ideas on what it means to grow older, such as confronting biases and perceptions about dementia, aging, and living well.

Savage worked in the alcohol and drug field for a number of years, “and everything that I’ve done in the past has prepared me for where I am now,” he said. “That’s rare. How many people, when you retire, are able to use all of your past experience to do something that you enjoy so much?”

Savage says he hopes To Whom I May Concern will inspire others living with cognitive change to tell their stories - and trust that they too can actively support, advocate and educate their communities about dementia.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.