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Old Hands, New Stories

Dementia is all around us. It changes the path we lay out for ourselves as we age. There is no way to prepare for the effects of dementia and for many it will be a devastating life changing shift. Whether it is your mother, father, sister, brother or spouse, the person will not engage in life the same once this diagnosis enters your life.

Dementia came into my life when I was a young girl. We would take Sunday drives through the green Skagit Valley, to a small town called Stanwood where we would visit my Great Grandpa Coral. We would go into his small condo and sit uncomfortably as I stared at all the objects of his life. After a brief somewhat uncomfortable visit, we would go see my great grandma, his wife. I remember he dusty strawberry blonde hair. it was fine and textured in such a way that you would want to reach out and touch it. her face would light up when we arrived. She would often be in a room that was nice, but obviously institutional. The light from the window was bleak and reminded me that this place was different than the rest of the world. She lived here, to be safe. The Alzheimer's had set in and while I did not realize fully what that meant, I could see that she was not like other people. Her joy in her eyes slowly dwindled with each visit and the last visits were with her in a bed, laying there in an incapacitated way, always alone. The notion of this happening to someone I loved terrified me. Watching her and not being able to do anything made me sad. I never wanted to leave her there. She left us in that place but the impact did not.

I have made it my life's work to alter the way we view aging and people who have aged. Dementia can be difficult. Instead of focusing on the deficits of the disease, I feel that there needs to be a shift to focus on the person's abilities.

There are still so many things a person can engage in if given the opportunity. How do we make this shift. It starts at the most basic level. It starts with us thinking about Dementia differently. It starts with finding the joy in the person as they change. How can we support that joy? We all want to live in a world that is understanding and respectful of people with dementia. But, how do we create a culture that is truly dementia-friendly? A culture that not only understands what it means to have dementia, but also takes the time to recognize the needs of those living with it? To create this kind of culture, it’s important to look at the ways we can support people with dementia and their families. Let’s explore some of these ideas.

Creating Opportunities for People With Dementia

One way to create a more dementia-friendly culture is by creating opportunities for people living with dementia to participate in their community. For example, many communities are now offering programs such as art classes, music therapy sessions and even yoga classes specifically tailored for individuals with dementia. These types of activities can help people retain cognitive function and provide them with an opportunity to engage with others in a safe and accepting environment.

Providing Supportive Environments

Another important step towards creating a more dementia-friendly culture is providing supportive environments for individuals living with dementia and their families. This includes providing access to resources such as home care services, respite care options and support groups where they can connect with other families facing similar challenges. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that family members are aware of the signs and symptoms associated with various forms of dementia so they can be better equipped to provide care and support.

Raising Awareness about Dementia

Finally, one of the most effective ways we can create a more inclusive environment for people living with dementia is by raising awareness about the condition. This involves educating ourselves on dementia related topics such as symptoms, treatments and research developments so we can ensure our communities are better informed on this often misunderstood condition. It also means having difficult conversations about how society views aging and how this impacts people who have been diagnosed with various forms of dementia.

Creating a truly welcoming environment for those living with dementia starts by recognizing the unique needs of those affected by this condition; from providing meaningful opportunities for engagement through artistic pursuits or sports activities, to connecting them to supportive services like respite care or home care aides - there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating an inclusive setting for those living with any form of cognitive decline. Ultimately though, it's up to all of us – whether as individuals or as part of larger organizations –to work together towards developing a truly inclusive community where everyone feels supported regardless of age or ability level. With open mindsets, dedication & collaboration, we can create an environment where everyone feels welcome!

These are elements that we apply in the new Adult Family Home, Grace's Manor here in Ellensburg. Come See what we are all about!

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Does this building already exist? or are you shaping the site as well? ... you are AMAZING!

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Ahna Soli
Ahna Soli
08 abr 2023
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Thank you! We are opening in June and this is serving people with dementia is a lifestyle for me.

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