The binmen, the icepop stick and 1.7 million viewers

The little animation with 1.7million views

Declan’s mother was in an advanced stage of Alzheimer when, to play back for her specialist, he recorded a conversation with her where she was disturbed by noises outside and he calmed her anxiety. In order to help others facing the same situation with their loved ones to understand the concerns that an Alzheimer sufferer might have, he set the audio to a simple animation and posted it on TikTok. The result was unexpected.

When Declan’s father passed away at the end of 2014, the family realised that the Alzheimer disease that their mother, Josephine, been diagnosed with had advanced much more than they had realised. James, ten years older than his wife, had been shielding her. 

The double bed in the couple’s room had been changed to two single beds, and the family took turns in staying over so that their Mum was never alone. 

“Of course I’d heard of Alzheimer and dementia, but I think we were all a little hazy about what it actually looked like,” explained Declan. “As Mum got worse, and started behaving in ever more strange ways, we had to figure out ways to keep her feeling secure. It must have been really frightening for her.”

Josephine had a blue handbag, and that, with its contents, became her obsession.

“There were just three things in that bag,” recalled Declan, “and you didn’t need to be a psychologist to understand their significance. There was her house key, which was important because it meant she had a home, her bank card, which gave her a sense of financial security, and her wedding ring. As the Alzheimer took hold, she began to forget, more and more, that Dad was dead, and the ring was her connection to him.”

It was less difficult to keep Josephine occupied during the day, but night times proved difficult and disturbed.

“Mum’s house is in an estate with young people, so there was quite a bit of activity outside – especially over the weekends. Mum would get quite anxious about unexplained noises, so you were constantly thinking of explanations for every sound,” explained Declan. “It was exhausting staying with her because you had to sleep with one eye open in case she got out of bed and disappeared out of the house to find her sisters – who had all passed away. We had a meeting with Mum’s specialist coming up so I left a little audio recorder on all night that would be triggered by any sound. It captured the conversation I had when, at 5am, Mum woke up, alarmed at the sound of the bin lorry outside. It was that actual recording that I used to make the little animation that I hoped would be of use to people facing the unknown in the same way that we had. I had no idea, when I posted it on TikTok, just how much it would resonate with people.”

This broke my heart and yet made my heart melt at the same time, by the tone and the patience. I felt the love you have for this lady…

Emma, TikTokker

The short clip has been watched 1.7 million times, ‘liked’ by over 170,000 people and has attracted almost 4,000 comments all over the world.

“I’ve not managed to read every comment, but not a single on of those that I have read is negative,” revealed Declan. “A lot of them are from people who are going, or have gone, through a similar journey with their own loved ones. I have to say – with the amount of negative news in the media these days, the warmth and support that came from TikTokkers has been a real boost. It’s enough to restore your faith in the goodness of people.”

@declancreative After Dad died , e took turns sleeping over with Mum as her world grew more confusing… #alzheimers #mother #loss #love #declancreative ♬ original sound – Declan Cassidy