Dementia - Daring to be Different

Paula reflects on a recent session

Our Dementia positive programme continues to invite interest and discussion but more than anything we hope to raise the voices of people living with dementia enabling them to “speak their truth to power”

The images above are part of a session where we considered the role of construction, choice and expression. Understandably people may look at the images and have an opinion on the aesthetics, the materials used and or may be thinking that this is an activity you might try out with a group . You might also be thinking what a random pile of objects! All of these views are welcome.

However what we are trying to do in every aspect of our dementia positive programme is to use creative processes as a means to gain insights into how people can communicate and make themselves known.

How do we go about thoughtfully and compassionately including and endorsing people living with dementia?

Are we too quick to make choices for people , to talk over them, to dismiss their particular way of communicating because we are embarrassed that we don’t understand ? If it doesn’t make immediate sense to us so we dismiss what is communicated as nonsense?

What we are discovering, uncovering week by week is that if we are willing to take the time, if we can suspend our judging minds and truly be with someone living with dementia we gain much into what is often a very nuanced view of the world from which we can all gain insights.

Think about the humour and the awareness of naming one of the constructions shown above in the slide show as “ The Naughty Archicle”. It shows an involvement in a process of making and owning and not an inconsiderable amount of wit. Someone living with dementia had the imaginative insight to make up this title .

This gift of imaginative connection signals to me that there is communication and expression happening or as my teacher Ruth Zaporah would always say “ there are miracles in motion all around us”

Everyone living with dementia has something to offer , our responsibility is to offer involving, open ended environments of enquiry where connections can be made and people living with dementia can have choice, agency and above all a way to say it their way.

Forget the rules…be untroubled. (Lao Tzu)