Living Well with Dementia
Dementia is an odd disease. It initially appears as strange behaviours that are unfamiliar to the person and their family. Dementia shows up as different ways of remembering things and sequencing events and people and so on. People experiencing and witnessing these changes, get muddled, feel embarrassed or uncomfortable and so shrink their lives to avoid the experience and the shame associated with revealing this to others.
This brain disease, this injury to our thought processes and alterations to our unique ways of being can be a profoundly long journey of loss, grief and change. There are gifts within this journey, but I imagine they are harder to find and harder still to celebrate.
As we better understand the disease and we better understand the positive influence of person centered care, Kiwanis finds its self-wanting to respond to these changes differently.
How? The medical model that has so helped us all to find access to healthcare that is generally life promoting and life saving finds it has less to offer when dementia as a way of life, arrives at someone’s door. Dementia may not need a traditional healthcare response for years since it begins in so many subtle ways and at so many different ages with so many different trajectories that life can adapt for some time. We turn to medical solutions and we are, as a society, ill-equipped to meet the destructive forces of stigma and shame that follow this human condition.
When our minds alter we perceive the world in unfamiliar ways and we are judged, excluded and kept away.
This response is changing. I am glad it is changing. I see it change and I want to be part of a group who commits to reducing the sense of shame, separation and stigma by shining a light on our traditional understanding of dementia and its weirdness. I want to alter our lens, approach and behaviours to create an opportunity to see through the ailment into the heart of the person living well with dementia. A person now who may be differently animated, yet perfectly similar, differently abled yet perfectly able in a different way.
Our role is to nurture the exploration of the new ‘who’, find space for connection and help the person living with dementia and those who surround them to transition safely and securely towards this altered state where feeling and sensing are the primary qualities of life.
Joy is available to everyone. Joy is knowing how to see, where to look and how to notice its presence. This takes a mind shift. At Kiwanis, we want to understand how to do this better and share our journey and experience with others as we grow.
If you are interested in our housing and care options, see what is available here.