A recent New York Times article quoting award-winning author Dr. Al Power reminds us that people living with dementia have much to teach us about being fully present with one another.
“Empathy Without Boundaries” highlights how individuals living with dementia experience a heightened sensitivity to the emotions and non-verbal communication of those around them. Studies show that these individuals may have a stronger empathetic response; if you are agitated they will feel it, if you are stressed so will they be.
Dr. Power, author of Dementia Beyond Drugs, notes that “we have to be very aware of our body language — being centered, present, not being distracted” when we spend time with someone who lives with dementia.
This is yet another wake-up call around how we respond to so-called “behaviors” exhibited by people who live with dementia. Better yet, it gives us the opportunity to consider how our relationships with them call on us to really show up for them – to truly BE with them.
In our busy world, developing this skill is a gift offered to us by people living with dementia. We learn to pause, breathe, and let go of whatever it is we are carrying from our day and be in the moment with another human being.
Share this article with your care partner teams and consider discussing how we each grow when we open to the opportunity to learn from the people we care for. From this perspective, everybody wins.