AgeSong Guru Week Video: Conversation on Forgetfulness Care vs Dementia/Alzheimer’s

The Guru Project brings together Dr. Allen Power, Dr. Richard Taylor, Stephanie Rothhman and Dr. Nader Shabahangi for a Guru Project Discussion About Forgetfulness. This recording, AgeSong Guru Week Video: Conversation on Forgetfulness Care vs Dementia/Alzheimer’s, shows the recent AgeSong Guru Project round table conversation on forgetfulness care vs. dementia/Alzheimer’s that took place on February 20th, 2015. The talk covers forgetfulness, stigma and how to humanize care for people with changing cognition.

A Conversation on Forgetfulness Care vs Dementia/Alzheimer’s

Some Highlights from this Guru Week conversation: In this talk and in the Guru Project as a whole we are looking at this phenomena called dementia and how it is becoming more medicalized and more stigmatized. We are also looking at how we can humanize the phenomena, reduce stigma and create better care environments. At AgeSong the emphasis is less on the biomedical diagnosis and more on recognizing human differences and individual needs when it comes to caring for those with “forgetfulness.”

The thesis of the Guru Project is to challenge current narratives regarding changing cognition. Contrary to popular belief, people who are living with changing congnition are not gone or fading away. They are actually the key to teaching the rest of us how to support people who’s cognition is changing. This is counter to the current narrative in our society where people with changing cognition are shut up in what are called “Alzheimer’s Units” of assisted living residences.

Dr Taylor expresses concern with the closing up of people with these conditions, with reducing stimuli and reducing their opportunity to enjoy their elder years.

Dr Power speaks to the stigma and suggests how offensive is it to generalize that all people with this label need to be keep all together and be treated the same way. The labels also predetermine a bias that can interfere with caring for the person as an individual. Diagnosis does not create a common denominator. From a care perspective this does not tell us about the individual and what their support needs are.

The systems that we have created to deal with individuals that are different are fundamentally “anti-humanity.” Dr Power suggests that perhaps the bigger upcoming problem is not that there will be more people dealing with changing cognition but the way we deal with them is the problem. The crisis is not that we will have “x” many people dealing with changing cognition in the next 20 years…the crisis is that we have such a dysfunctional way of seeing them and supporting them.

The idea that someone with dementia cannot have a life that is not full of tragedy and suffering sets us up for views and practices that actually make the suffering much worse than it needs to be.

This video of the Guru Project includes discussions on stigmatizing and integration vs segregation. Dr Power, Dr Taylor, Stephanie Rothman and Dr Shabahangi talk about how creating an environment that fosters relationship, encourages diversity of the individual, a tolerance for differences and promotes “Aging in Place” can reduce stigma and create better cultures of care for people with Forgetfulness.

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