The thoughts creep in, quietly, sneakily, like Sandburg’s fog “on little cat feet.” I walk into the living room and puzzlement seizes me. I ask myself, “Now why am I here?” I am writing to my cousin and suddenly can’t remember his life partner’s last name. And then there’s the mysterious case of the forest green shirt in the night, gone missing now for four and a half weeks.
Perhaps you, too, deal with these flash thoughts: “Am I feeling the first confusions of the deeply forgetful?” (That’s the beautiful way Stephen G. Post, PhD, refers to memory loss.)
“If I should become more deeply forgetful, I want to be sure you read this book,” I tell Ron.
“This book” is I’m Still Here by John Zeisel, PhD, and I felt enveloped with grace, compassion, and excitement while I was reading it. John is the president and cofounder of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, and a writer, professor, and vigilant advocate for those living with dementia.
He writes about how he’s been transformed by working with people living with dementia. He orchestrates care partner conversations, where they discuss the gifts of being present for their loved ones with dementia. He’s brimming with creative ideas and activities that bring life and fun to care partners.
With his colleague, Sean Caulfield, he drew into existence the Meet Me at MOMA arts program for those living with dementia, and now offers a variety of artistic and creative programs all over the world. He’s involved in a number of other innovative programs through his foundation, including It Takes a Village, designed to keep people living with dementia connected to their communities and to themselves.
Here is one of John’s thoughts that really speaks to me: “Everyone has his own unique capabilities. … It is our job to uncover, celebrate, and embrace these abilities, so everyone living with Alzheimer’s maintains dignity, independence, and self respect.”
Those words are easily just as true if they read: “Everyone has his own unique capabilities. … It is our job to uncover, celebrate, and embrace these abilities, so everyone maintains dignity, independence, and self respect.”
If you want to feel more connected to someone who’s living with dementia, if you want to celebrate yourself as a care partner, if you want to understand more about the dementia experience, if you want a dash of inspiration and a long cool drink of hope, you’ll love reading this book.
To Learn More about The I’m Still Here Foundation’s programs, visit www.ImStillHere.org
To Learn More about Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, visit www.TheHearth.org
To learn more about John, just Google his name
To order John’s book, visit Amazon.com or another online bookstore
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.