Convener: Kate Maravan
Participants: Alyson Mckechnie, Chris Grady, Cindy Oswin, Sam Smith, Bonnie Rose, Steven Raynor, Lauren Cooney
Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
Alzheimers has been described as a ‘never ending funeral’, my mother who is in early stages will not acknowledge her dementia and my father moves in and out of acceptance and denial. I have encountered a host of frightening and upsetting stories about those with Alzheimers and it is one of societies enduring taboos. As I experience the changes in my mother and my relationship with her, I wanted to share with others at D and D and invite new perspectives and insights. It was a small but thoroughly engaged group and it has opened my mind and heart to the experience of dementia. Instead of a focus on loss, death of self, suffering and fear of shifting realities, we explored about the possibility of different and more creative ways of relating with those with Alzheimers. An aliveness and connection with the present moment and exploring the language of now; a discovery of the person we are with now rather than an attachment to who we once knew or who we feel they should still be. An invitation to be still, quiet and discover all that lies in the spaces between words and doing. The creating of new and meaningful realities. That relating to someone with dementia is an exchange and can be a creative interaction.
I am very interested in how the dismantling of the fixed notion of identity and personality is part of my Alzheimers experience. As my mother shifts, the ground under my feet is shifting. A both frightening and yet totally liberating possibility of redefining one’s relationship to self, others and the world. I go away inspired by the creative possibilities and an understanding of the potential of Alzheimers to contribute and enrich.