In 2016, both of Aaron Craven's parents were diagnosed with dementia. His father, Don, had vascular dementia, and his mother, Peggy, had Alzheimer's.
So, he became a caregiver to them.
He was also a new father, trying to manage his busy film and television career.
It was a lot.
Now, he's written a play about his experience, hoping to connect with others who have experienced something similar.
Instantaneous Blue premieres Jan. 6 at the Waterfront Theatre on Vancouver's Granville Island, where it will run until Jan. 22.
It follows a young couple, Ed and Sara, who are about to have a child when Ed's parents simultaneously experience cognitive decline.
"I wanted to use my own experience to tell as truthful stories as I could about what it's like to be in that pressure cooker," Craven said.
"The play's a love letter to my parents, but it's also a story for anybody that is living in this experience."
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 15 people are diagnosed with dementia every hour in Canada. The number of Canadians living with the condition will triple by 2050, the society says.
The term dementia describes a general group of brain disorders that are progressive, degenerative and, ultimately, terminal.
Symptoms can include memory loss, impaired judgment, difficulty problem-solving and a change in behaviour, mood and personality.
According to the society, dementia typically affects people over 65, but people in their 40s and 50s can also be diagnosed.
However, Craven said Instantaneous Blue is not just for people who have a parent that has been diagnosed with dementia but for anyone who has a family.
"The loss of our parents is a universal theme," Craven said. "We're never ready for it."
He said he wrote the play not for catharsis but to gain a better understanding of his own experience.
"There's something about getting your experience out on paper," he said.
But watching the actors play out something so personal has been emotional.
"They're taking the words on the page, and I'm watching moments where I feel like I'm right back, reliving that moment in my life."
"It hasn't just been challenging for me — there are cast members and crew members who have lived experience with this that are also sitting in the room. We spent a few bucks on Kleenex."
While he's tried to inject humour into the play, he said anyone planning to attend should understand how triggering and emotional it really is.
"There's really no suitable trigger warning for somebody watching and maybe imprinting part of their own life on it."
Support is available for both those living with dementia and their caregivers. Visit alzheimer.ca to find support in your community.