Cohort 
2020

Karen Meenan

Theater & Radio Producer

To reduce the impact of dementia, we need to involve those living with dementia in co-creating enjoyable creative ageing projects

Current Work

Karen works with people living with dementia and their carers developing reminiscence theatre and radio broadcasts.  She has a special interest in Lewy Body Disease (LBD) and is co-founder and director of Lewy Body Ireland.

 

Personal Hero

Kevin Quaid - author of 'Lewy Body Dementia, Survival and Me' and 'I am KEVIN! not Lewy'

Words of Strength

Sparking Memories – Sharing Stories

Vision

To improve brain health, Karen believes we need to involve and include those living with all forms of dementia and their care partners to share their stories as the true experts living with these conditions.  We need to start a conversation that dementia is not just about Alzheimer's Disease and older people, and memory loss is not the only factor to consider.

Strategy

Karen is sharing the stories of those living with different neurodegenerative diseases on radio and in theater.  She founded 'Making Hay' dementia-inclusive theater in 2017 and has produced and directed three co-created plays from intergenerational workshops.  Her mission as director of Lewy Body Ireland is to raise the profile of this disease and build community for the estimated 10,000 living in Ireland with Lewy Body Disease.

Impact

As an Atlantic Fellow working during a pandemic, Karen wants to connect with the Lewy Body Community around the world, sharing their stories and raising awareness of this complex disease. She is passionate about starting a conversation that Alzheimer's Disease is not the only form of dementia and that younger people are also affected.

Motivation

64,000 people in Ireland are living with dementia and half a million families are affected.  Lewy Body Disease affects almost 10,000 people who are currently without support and turn to the UK and USA for help. Her aim is to create the first and only charity in Ireland specifically for people in Ireland and their carepartners living with LBD.  

Education & Experience

Karen is a self-employed entrepreneur. She has worked as a brand manager, marketing manager, and sales manager with BWG Foods before opening her own SPAR shop in Dublin. She has been operating a successful retail and training consultancy since 2001. Her interest in dementia was sparked when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. As a founder member of the Forget-Me-Nots choir, she witnessed the power of dementia-inclusive creative aging. She returned to college to attain a BA (Hons) Drama and founded “Making Hay Theatre” in 2017 and has co-created three plays through dementia-inclusive inter-generational workshops; “We Were All Young Once” (2017), “A Play with ME in it” (2018), and “The Lost in Time Bookshop” (2020). She is currently a presenter, researcher, and producer of “Reminiscence on the Radio” a dementia-inclusive weekly series on Near FM. “Reminiscence on the Radio” is a weekly series on Near FM Community Radio which features songs, stories, news items, and soundtracks and invites Karen’s guests to share their special poems on air. Making Hay Theatre is an intergenerational theatre group which meets in-person and virtually to co-create new dementia-inclusive plays. Three new plays “We Were All Young Once,” “A Play with ME in it,” and “The Lost in Time Bookshop” have already been produced and performed to a dementia-inclusive audience. She also has Dip Marketing and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Radio Training.

Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI)
current
Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
Drama
2017
BA (Hons)

Awards & Honors

Community Radio Ireland
Social Benefit (for "Voyage Around My Brain" and "Reminiscence on the Radio")
2020
Achievement Award, Gold

Podcasts

‘Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration’ is a new series which gets under the dementia umbrella to discuss the hallmarks of different neurodegenerative diseases with a sprinkling of music and poetry.

'Voyage Around My Brain' is a new series where Karen Meenan meets dementia experts to discuss Brain Health.

'Reminiscence on the Radio' features Karen talking with poets, writers and singers, including people living with dementia and caregivers - the point is nobody could tell the difference, stories are all stories on the radio.

Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Wendy Weidner, Rachel Thompson, Ken Greaney and David McNair

Communicating the Message of Brain Health

August 9, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Iracema Leroi, JP Connolly, David Loughrey and Ronald Cartin

Sensory Cognitive Health (Visual & Hearing Impairment)

July 26, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Mike Hanrahan, Roman Romero Ortuno, Dana Walrath and Magda Kaczmarska

Vascular Dementia and The Arts in Dementia Care

July 19, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Tim Lynch, Suzanne Timmons, Richelle Flanagan and Olwyn Lyons

Parkinson’s Disease

July 12, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Simon Murphy, Jonathan Rohrer, Martina Cloak and Nahuel Magrath Guimet

Frontotemporal Dementia

July 5, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Gareth O'Callaghan, Paula O’Callaghan, Bruce Miller and Jake Broder

Frontotemporal Dementia

June 28, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Barbara Brennan, Virginia Sturm, Marc Bennett and Carlos Chechetti

Anxiety, Depression and Mental Health

June 21, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Kathleen Quinlan, Craig Ritchie, Órla Horn and Shane Cassidy

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration

June 14, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Gary Christopher, Sean Mackell, Seán Dónal O’Shea and Clodagh Whelan

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration:

May 31, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Ian McKeith, Kevin Quaid, Helena Quaid and Tylor Norwood

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration:

May 24, 2021
Near FM

Talkin’ About Neurodegeneration: Iracema Leroi, Christine Maddocks, Peter Owens, Jacqui Cannon

Lewy Body Disorders

May 17, 2021
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Jane Ohlmeyer, Ian Robertson, Marina Lynch and Mani Ramaswami

GBHI in Trinity College

March 1, 2021
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Tomás León, Lidija Radacic and Luciano Mariano

Brain Health and Dementia in South America

January 4, 2021
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Ian Robertson, Helen Rochford-Brennan, Pat McLoughlin and Caitriona Doyle

The Importance of Confidence in Brain Health

December 28, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Lea Grinberg, Ronán Conroy, Geraldine Finlay and Michael Murphy

Sleep, Insomnia and Hearing Loss—Links to Dementia

December 21, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Peter Owens, Maureen Penrose, Nancy Dempsey and Veronica Forsgren

Voyage Around My Brain

December 14, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Wambui Karanja, Primrose Nyamayaro and Funmi Akindejoye

How is Brain Health Managed in Africa?

December 7, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Magda Kaczmarska and Peggy Finn

The Importance of Dance and Movement for Brain Health

November 30, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Dominic Campbell and Norah Walsh

Community Engagement in Dementia Care

November 23, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Rose Henderson and Roman Romero-Ortuno

Memory and Memories in Dementia Care

November 16, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Bruce Miller and Frances Elliott

Emotions in Brain Health

November 9, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Sarah Fox, Susanne Roehr, Berenice Werle and Francesca Farina

What is Brain Health?

November 2, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Phil Coffey, Paul Coffey, Niamh Coffey and Grainne Hope

The Importance of Music in Dementia Care

October 19, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Hanan Khalil, Marianna Flood and Pat Flood

Parkinson’s Disease

October 12, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Dominic Trepel and Nora Owen

The Importance of Health Economics and the Impact of Brain Health

October 5, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Adolfo Garcia and Kate Murphy

What happens in our brain when we lose one language and start to speak in another?

September 28, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Brian Lawlor and Mary Whelan

Hope after Dementia Diagnosis

September 21, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: Canice Kelly, Lizanne Kelly and Nicky Taylor

The Importance of Theatre in Dementia Care

September 17, 2020
Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain: John Gore-Grimes, Kate Byrne and Francesca Farina

Living with Dementia

September 14, 2020
Near FM

Reminiscence on the Radio

Reminiscence on the Radio

July 29, 2020