Alzheimer’s disease inspired family business

A woman who lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease is using her grief to help others, writes Joyce Fegan.

Michele Healy, along with her daughter Darcie, have started the Memory Collectors after Michele’s 91-year-old mother died last February before the family had a chance to document her life.

Michele and Darcie realised that many people missed out on recording memories before their loved ones passed away.

“My mum Patricia had Alzheimer’s for 11 years and it was too far advanced before we realised that we hadn’t any of her stories recorded,” said Michele.

Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

“Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to her last February. She was 91 when she died and would have had a wealth of local history and tales to recall.”

The pair now create biography movies for families using a team of writers, videographers and psychologists. They can also incorporate old footage and family photographs into any film biography.

“Most of us have easy access to cameras but so few of us have the time and expertise to pull together all our pictures, videos and stories and present it in a beautifully finished film,” said Darcie.

“Telling stories can be a daunting task so we go to a client’s home and make sure they are comfortable talking to us before filming begins. The client is delighted to have had their memories recorded and families are elated to have footage they can watch and enjoy over and over again. It’s a very emotional and inter-generational thing.”

The mother-daughter duo have been approached for all sorts of family occasions since launching their business, not just for capturing memories of people at the end of their lives. Families have hired them to record a child emigrating, a loved one celebrating a birthday and even pregnancies.

“Time marches on and before you know it, there are no more words, only cherished memories. As one client described it — it really is the closest you can get to leaving a part of you behind,” said Darcie.

This story originally apeared in the Irish Examiner.

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