DEMENTIA WISDOM: An Overview of Exciting Possibilities
What if the things that make life meaningful, happy, and healthy could provide critical support for people living with dementia and those who love them?
What if creativity, compassion, spiritual intelligence and other elements of the cloud graphic above represent proven ways to transform serious dementia problem?
What if we act as if people with dementia still are filled with love and light, even when we don’t yet know how to connect with or support those gifts?
All these “what if’s” are true for my husband John and me. He lives and thrives with Lewy Body dementia. I get support that helps me love him and my life more every year.
John’s and my relationship grows more satisfying every day, even when it’s tough. While that’s not at all unusual given the company we keep, too many people in our situation don’t know the options we’ve found. Hence, this newsletter.
Millions of us around the world are creating and sharing wise, often fun, ways to thrive while handling the challenges of dementia.
I call this movement “dementia wisdom” because that’s the simplest way I know that combines the work and hopes of individuals and groups we’re blessed to know. The name came intuitively. Its many meanings are revealed through caring actions that mimic those of the civil rights, women’s, human potential, and other movements:
- Dare to go beyond the status quo to find better ways to handle your challenges and build your dreams.
- Research what others have discovered, and create your own solutions and inspiration.
- Hang out with others who care about your challenge and hold similar dreams.
- Work together!
- Witness, encourage, and support each other.
- Watch the wisdom and joy grow as you repeat all these steps.
The Dementia Wisdom Word Cloud graphic shows many modalities, mindsets and actions that can help you develop and apply more wisdom.
Mindfulness and other forms of meditation or contemplative practices help us observe and clarify our thoughts without getting caught up in them. In the process, stress and confusion can transform into peacefulness. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/publications/hopkins_medicine_magazine/features/fall-2019/making-space-for-mindfulness
In a state of peace, curiosity and creativity come alive, and you may gain the strength you need to let go of our culture’s obsession on hopes of a quick fix to any challenge.
As you embrace the unknown, spiritual and emotional intelligence can come alive, helping you find deeper solutions to what you can change and make peace with what you can’t.
We may not be able to cure dementia, but we definitely can significantly lessen its impact through wise, caring action.
In Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, neurosurgeon and CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD says that the conversation about dementia is focusing more now on how we can “reshape the experience …showing those with dementia and their caregivers that it is possible to live well with the disease.” (p.222)
Dr. Gupta reports that a bigger focus on early intervention and healthy lifestyle choices could delay or reduce the severity of dementia symptoms. (p. 223). About our favorite resource, Dementia Action Alliance (daanow.org) (p.247), he wrote, “Some community members feel that life is actually better after their diagnosis because it opens doors and creates new opportunities.”
Amen! Here are just a few of our highlights from being involved in DAA:
- I’ve learned how to be a more relaxed, better care partner, in large part from listening to what people living with dementia have to say.
- We’ve both told medical students during discussions led by Dr. Susan Weir what we want future doctors to know about our situation and needs.
- Other participants have witnessed our pain, blessed our dreams, and sat with us through heartbreak.
- We get tips our neurologist doesn’t know or doesn’t have time to tell us. We share poetry that deepens our questions and leads us into guidance.
- Through Dementia Mentors (dementiamentors.org), which we discovered through DAA, John has a new buddy who totally gets his particular type of dementia and how to deal with it, including a movie recommendation!
Want to tap more of your dementia wisdom?
Look at the list of elements in the Dementia Wisdom wordcloud graphic. Which elements are you already implementing? Which are you drawn to investigate?
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Surprising blessings of many kinds to you, Pat Sullivan