Today, as I celebrate another birthday, I marvel at life’s twists and turns. This has been another surprising year, another opportunity to grow and to engage meaningfully with the world around me. And I look forward to the surprises that 2014 holds.
When I was a teenager, I probably had little expectation that someone my current age would still have a lot of growth left in him. But over time, I have learned that, as Eden Alternative Principle Nine states, “Human growth cannot be separated from human life.”
This applies not only to older adults, but also adults living with chronic illness; and yet, meaning and growth are two concepts we often find hard to visualize for people living with dementia. But the need for meaning and growth do not go away with the diagnosis; in fact, it can be argued that the need becomes even greater, exactly because society does not recognize this potential or provide ongoing opportunities for the person. There is an existential crisis—“Do I still matter? Does my life still have value, now that I have been labeled with this condition?”
In Defining Purpose, Meaning, & Growth, the next webinar event for Creating Well-Being for Those Who Live with Dementia: Alternatives to Medication Use, I will explore meaning and growth, as Domains of Well-Being. We will discuss how to help create meaning in the lives of those who may be less able to find it for themselves, whether residing in a nursing home or in the community. We will challenge the stigmas that strip people of meaning and devalue them. And I will mention one situation when we should never use the world “feel.”
I will also touch on how we interpret the meanings of people’s words and actions. I will share some insights I have learned from my friends living with dementia about how to better understand them.
We will also explore growth, how it continues to occur alongside cognitive or functional change, and the diversity of abilities that characterize dementia for each individual. I will explain why I have a problem with “retrogenesis,” and with the “Time-Warp Dementia Village” model.
I hope you will join me on January 7th from 3-4 pm ET for Webinar #5. Best wishes for a New Year of meaning and growth for all!