PHOTOS: Global project captures soul of dementia

Broad smiles, laughter, and the joy of human contact are constant themes in the images of people with dementia taken through the eyes of Cathy Greenblat.

Professor Greenblat, an internationally acclaimed photographer, is in Wollongong to challenge the misconception that people with age-related cognitive conditions are lost or empty shells.

Her photographs, taken in eight countries including Australia, show the experiences of people living a full life with dementia.

"As a photographer and sociologist, I am talking about and showing a different vision of dementia than is usually around," she said.

"That vision is one that says there is usually a lot of loss, and it's painful and it's difficult to deal with, but that's not the whole story and we tend to focus on the loss and see this only as a tragedy that we can't do anything about until a cure or prevention is found.

"That's not true. What I've seen, and what I'm showing other people, is that while we wait for those desired outcomes, there's a great deal we can do to maintain a much higher quality of life for people who are living with the diagnosis directly or secondary as a care partner.

"I'm trying to temper the despair that surrounds the condition with hope, by saying we can really do a lot and we can have rich experiences, no matter who we are in that partnership."

Prof Greenblat, now retired from an academic career, has been engaged in a cross-cultural photographic project on ageing, dementia, and end-of-life care.

Prof Greenblat will join NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre director Professor Richard Fleming and UnitingCare Ageing's Starrett Lodge manager Colin McDonnell for two dementia care events.

The first will be held at the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus on Thursday from 3pm to 6pm. Cost $25. Seats are still available. Call the NSW/ACT DTSC office on 4221 5927 or email

The second event will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, on Friday from 1pm to 4.30pm. Cost $60.

Prof Greenblat's website address is

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