Irene Borins Ash

The theme for the 26th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International was “The Changing Face of Dementia.” Of the many photos that official photographer Irene Borins Ash took, this one particularly spoke to her of those changes.

Walking around with her camera, she saw three women animatedly talking, totally enjoying being there. She asked why they were at the conference, and all three said that they had Alzheimer’s disease—not what she’d expected to hear. One was even a keynote speaker and had given a presentation to several hundred people.

These women believed that by having a positive attitude, they were more likely to prolong their ability to withstand the disease. They decided not to let their diagnosis of Alzheimer’s take away their enjoyment of life, and were still very involved with living and very connected to family, friends and their community. They celebrated life, with confidence and a sense of humour, and they had not given up hope.

“Everyone—including me—is terrified of Alzheimer’s,” says Irene. “Meeting these women made me reconsider my attitude toward the disease. Seeing their photo might prompt others to rethink their preconceived ideas.”

Irene Borins Ash started doing photography when she was in her early teens before becoming a tapestry weaver for the next twenty five years.
 She returned to school in her early 30’s, earned her Master of Social Work and is a Registered Social Worker.
Over the years photography replaced the tapestry weaving. She wrote a book entitled Treasured Legacies- Older & Still Great (Second Story Press, 2003). In the book were 44 photographs of seniors and stories about people who were aging with a positive attitude despite life’s difficulties.
Her second book, which is about the positive side of life in long term care homes, is entitled Aging Is Living- Myth Breaking Stories From Long Term Care and the publisher is Dundurn Press, 2009. There are 25 photos in the book.
Irene is a passionate photographer who uses the camera to tell stories. She has managed to unite her social work practice with her love of photography. She is often hired to do photography that is connected to various social issues.
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