True North Living: 18/1 SW_jan_mar_2018_digital - Page 3

s tarting the Conversation Let’s look Alzheimer’s in the eye this year Caring is what makes us human Over the last few months our Director of Education and Innovation, Jean Garboden, and I have traveled to several Compass Senior Living communities to conduct training we call Caring is What Makes Us Human: Empathetic communication with those who have dementia. It has evolved into a powerful and engaging series of stories that reflect the more than 10 years we’ve been working to try to understand dementia and find a better way to care for those who have it. Our employees are required to attend. It’s those that are not required to attend that inspire me. For several of the trainings elders and families have joined us. Recently, I was inspired looking out at the elders’ faces that were engaged in the conversation— unafraid of what they’d learn. They aren’t afraid of knowing what Alzheimer’s or other dementias can do. And, with their presence, they are facing it head-on. Elders may see this daily amongst their peers and wonder, “am I next”? And yet, they were the ones most interested in learning what it means, how to understand, and how they can care for others. Engaging in the conversation These elders inspire me because they are engaging in the conversation that most are too afraid to have. They are arming themselves with the knowledge that will help to eliminate fear. They are building understanding that those with dementia are still “in there” and they 1451 Spruce Street, Florence, OR 97439 are whole human beings to be loved-- not feared. They are showing us that age, impairments, and change are to be understood and accepted. The elders that choose to engage are ambassadors powerfully making a better elderhood future for the rest of us. Disrupt the fear about Alzheimer’s Like cancer, the movement to find a cure for Alzheimer’s is growing because most of us know, or have known, someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. If you haven’t yet, you will. By learning about dementia and how we can communicate with those who have it, you join the movement to change language around “locked units”. They are not prisoners to be locked away. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, aunts, and uncles. They simply need us to look them in the eye, sing to them, dance with them, and know they still desire to be heard and understood. Resolve to learn more As this new year starts please make a resolution that will make real change with one simple act. Resolve to learn more, participate in conversations, and try to understand Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Follow in these elders’ footsteps and learn what you can do to help just one individual. After all, caring is what makes us human. • • • • • Amira Fahoum, Director of Operations, NW Region for Compass Senior Living. | 3