Day three

Where is this going? What is our next step? What do we do? We don’t know. We have never experienced something like this on such a global scale since World War 2. The entire world has come to a standstill. People are frightened. Petrified. We see the worst in people coming to the surface – racism, xenophobia.
Why is this? What is it that we are so afraid of? Why are we all in lockdown, why has the world stopped? DEATH – there, I said it. We are afraid of dying. We are all scared that we, or someone we love, will die. We have implemented the most extreme measures the world has ever seen, because we do not want to die.
In certain countries, if you are over 60 or in some places 70, you will not receive medical care that involves being put on a ventilator. Those will be reserved for “younger” people who have more to contribute to the economy. Yes, you understood right. This is what it has come to.
I wonder if anyone has bothered to ask people over 70 how they feel about this “arrangement”. The thought is unthinkable. Yet, that is the current status quo. But I would love to know what older people think, how they feel about this. Because, I think we are missing something in our petrified and scared state of mind.
I wonder how many older people fear death. Ironically, I have just started a series of talks on dying when Covid-19 came to throw a spanner in the works. And oh, then my own Father died on the 21st of February. Bad timing. He was good at throwing a spanner in the works and getting his timing wrong.
I was just about to explore how older people felt about dying when my 84 year old, very fit and healthy biker Dad, had a stroke and died two weeks later. What did I learn from this – that it is time we started talking about dying. That we stop pretending that we are going to live forever. That we are NOT immortal, that the only thing we can be sure of is that none of this will get out of here alive. We are all going to die. And that thought will spur us into Living!
No, I do not want to suffer or die from suffocation. Yet, why do we think that WE should be spared from this thing called death? Why do we think that it is something that mostly happens in Italy or Spain? Their old people are usually held as the beacons of good health – all that sunshine, the Mediterranean diets, the red wine. Hell, why are they suddenly all dying? We thought we had it figured out.
Nope. We have not figured it out. And all the lockdown and masks and billions towards finding a vaccine…whatever. We are still not going to get out of here alive. Maybe not from Covid-19, maybe not soon, but trust me, you are going to die!
I know this is not what anyone wants to hear right now. No no no, we want to create activities for older people, keep them safe, find ways to communicate with them, keep them busy. How about we all shut up and start having the most valuable and meaningful conversations with each other, about our mortality. We have not conquered death, and Covid-19 is a reminder. Yes, it is not a gentle reminder, it is more like a siren waking us from our peaceful slumber, cutting through flesh and bone right to our marrow.
This is our wake-up call. I hope for once we are going to listen. And that when this is over, we will not celebrate the fact that we “beat” the virus, that we “won the war”. I hope that we will become quiet, introspective, contemplating the gift of Life. The precariousness of our Being here in this reality. That we will see and hear and feel and smell the transient nature of our time on this planet.
And I hope that we will change our ways. That we will rethink the role of Elders. That we will see them as valuable assets. Contributors, not consumers. I hope that during this crisis our Elders will step up. We say that our Elders should live in an environment where they can give, and not just receive. I hope this crisis is waking up Elders across the globe to smell the coffee.
Elders, wake up! You are not the vulnerable victims of a virus. Wake up and take charge again of your environment. Stand up now, your country needs you! Take charge of your own Life and see how YOU can change the course of history alongside Covid-19. In The Eden Alternative we use the acronym GROWTH. I love it! It says Get real. Reach out. Open up and dream. Work up a plan. Take action. Hold fast….
This is what the world needs from every older person now. GROWTH. Get real and face the music. Reach out to those around you and open up and dream. Then work up some plans on how you can get involved, help, support, guide, entertain, pray – whatever you think is needed. Then, take action. Get off your backside and make yourself useful! Now is not the time to sit and wait to be served – now is the time for you to be of service, in whatever small or big way that you can!
And then, hold fast. Don’t let go. Even when this pandemic is over, hold fast to living your life. If you are still here, you go. You grow. Human life should never be separated from human growth. This is truer now than ever before – now is the time for GROWTH!

Day two

Is it Saturday or Sunday? Somehow it feels like Sunday. Must be the silence… I can vividly recall Sundays in the school hostel. Most employees left just after lunch. We got sandwiches for supper that were made on Friday afternoon already and kept in the fridge. Sandwich spread. Marmite. Jam. Soggy and cold when we got them unwrapped on a Sunday afternoon. But today is Saturday. I think?
I vividly remember the trappings of institutionalisation. A bell ringing to announce supper/study time/bedtime/ getting up time. A routine menu – Friday fish. Pudding three times a week. Toppers. Sago pudding. I hated it. Every single moment of it. Perhaps that is the reason why I feel so passionately about changing the system of locking older people up in so-called “care” homes.
We create dependence. We kill individuality. We discourage individual thinking. Would this virus perhaps contribute to a global rethink of locking down people simply because they are old? Would it make us rethink our attitude towards older, vulnerable people? Maybe it will take a pandemic of this nature to make us change our minds.
I am intrigued by the lack of resident participation in some of our homes. Why do residents not queue to offer their help? Why are not volunteering to assist the employees who are skeleton numbers? Are they lazy? Scared? I don’t think so. I think we have created a system where very few residents have the confidence to step up, to offer their help. We have created a generation of older people in care homes that have lost their individuality, their gravitas. We made them helpless.
Somehow, I hope this virus will change this phenomena. I am waiting for residents to see how much we need their help, how valuable their contributions would be, how needed their wisdom and guidance and support are to the employees. Maybe this virus will bring about an awakening, a realisation that they are not old and useless.
Maybe this virus will encourage and engage people to see how privileged they are to live in a Care Home where everything is provided for them. I hope so. I really and truly hope that we will have see a change that comes with the threat. A change that will bring about an opportunity to give and not just receive. To be of service and not just to be served.
Every Elder is equipped with a lifetime of experience. Now is the time to explore this, to bring out of the mothballs. To participate and activate and celebrate. Life is precious. Now is the time to live it!

Day zero

What a surreal day. Tonight at midnight we go into lockdown. The concept means so many different things to so many people. In our world, it means that our Care Homes will be shut from the public, with only employees going in and out. The risks are frightening…
Four of the homes have decided to go into quarantine. No one will be allowed to enter the premises. Employees will stay on the premises for the next 21 days with residents. I wake up with a feeling of urgency…
My cousin Martin works at the Westin Grand Hotel in Cape Town. He offered and arranged for us to collect used linen from the hotel for employees who will move into the Care Homes. Friends rally to help – we collect four car loads, a trailer and two small truck loads of sheets, duvets, pillows, covers and gowns. The amount of stuff is quite overwhelming.
I take one of the loads to Stellenbosch where we deposit everything. From here, our senior staff will distribute to the homes. The roads are eerily quiet. People congregate at malls and shops to stock up. I decide to visit our managers at the homes that will go into quarantine.
Joggie, our manager at Vonke House, comes to the gate. No one is allowed inside, not even me. We stand on either side of the big metal gate, simply holding each other’s gaze. I cannot speak. Looking at Joggie I am overcome with emotion. Awe. Respect. Gratitude. Humility. “Ons gaan ok wees meneer. Moenie worry nie.” I leave without being able to say a word. The best I can do is to share a Namasté (I bow to the Divine in you) and walk away in tears.
At Robari I speak to Jacqui, our assistant manager. She is tiny, looking younger than what she is, yet she exudes strength. Again, I am the one being reassured that they will be fine. Ju-Ann, the manager, says they opened the hair salon today, as GERATEC employees offered to do the resident’s hair!
At Silver Oaks, Marietjie and I are both equally emotional. They have prepared everything – tomorrow there will be a braai for the residents. I cannot believe that they actually made sosaties for all the residents for a braai!
Lynn and I have coffee at the mall, as I cannot enter their village. I feel such incredible support from each and every employee! There I thought I was going to see them to support them – yet I feel held with such grace and kindness by each and every one of them.
In Fish Hoek the same applies. Our managers are strong, confident, the employees positive. “Give us a permit, we will find people to bring us to work”. “Meneer moenie worry nie, meneer ken ons mos”. On Chapman’s Peak I have to pull off the road, I am so overcome with emotion…
We are facing a nightmare. We have no idea what to expect. We are all holding our breath. Everyone wonders in which home the virus will show up first. We are petrified. Yet, they carry on. Strong. Confident.
I come home and crawl into bed with the dogs. Exhausted. At least the employees in lockdown will have beautiful sheets, pillows and duvets tonight. I am in awe of these (mostly) women and men who are prepared to sacrifice everything for the residents. They could choose to go on leave, to stay at home. Yet, they firmly volunteered to stay with the residents.
Tonight Victor and I are quiet at home. Messages keep on coming in, urging Victor to now take a break and look after himself. Whatever lies ahead, we will be strong. Our Elders will be held with love, kindness and grace, that I now know for sure!

The silence

This silence of the early morning is almost eerie with no traffic hum filling the atmosphere. We have now officially gone into lockdown. The amount of work behind the scenes to orchestrate this has been massive. Protocols, operating procedures, policies and guidelines. And yet, we have no idea what to expect…
The GERATEC employees have been more than positive. They really have been going out of their way to keep things as “normal” as possible to not disrupt the routine of the homes for the residents. It is early days, energies are high. I am worried about how this will play out. Somehow it feels a bit like a Big Brother television series – a group of unlikely people locked up together for 21 days.
The group dynamics, the stress levels, irritation levels, energy levels and different personalities are bound to make for an interesting time. I find it incredible that employees send ME messages of support – as if I am at the front line! There is a strong feeling of solidarity, of taking ownership and support going through all the units.
Of course, the fact that the first two people died on day one of the lockdown is significant. Somehow, for me, it is a relief that they were not older people, bizarre as that might sound. On the other hand I am sure it creates more anxiety amongst our employees if anyone thought that they were somehow immune. We are all vulnerable. Being at the frontline, working directly with older and frail people must create an even bigger sense of distress for our employees.
We have no idea how this will play out. I know that we have done everything in our power, even if some people told us that we were “over reacting”. Now we must get through each day. Courage. Wisdom. Resilience. Innovation. Compassion. And a sense of humour. Good ingredients to take on the journey.

Lockdown

Lockdown. We kick and scream and try everything in our power to negotiate our way out of this reality. We challenge the minister of Police. We try to find loopholes. The vitriol on Facebook about not being able to buy alcohol or go for a run or take the dog for a walk is beyond toxic and aggressive. Somehow, we will not, cannot, tolerate that this is happening to us. Regardless of horrific statistics of the number of deaths globally, we simply cannot get our heads around a lockdown.
Yet, we think nothing of our western culture that regularly sends older people into lockdown. At least we have the luxury of being locked down in our own homes, with our pets, our gardens, and our creature comforts. Can I implore you to try and contemplate for a moment what it must feel like to have to give up your home, have your dog put to sleep, sell your car, give away your furniture, photographs, beautiful linen and most of your clothes to move into a small apartment of room in an old age home?
Think of your own uncertainty, the fear, the anxiety around this Covid-19 virus. How it makes us all feel helpless. How this thing has made us feel desperate. Can I implore you to during this time try and imagine what it must feel like for someone living with dementia to be diagnosed. Most people know as much about dementia as they know about Covid-19 when they are diagnosed. And then they start trawling the internet, reading article after article on the horrors of the disease. Contradicting anecdotal fear mongering horror stories of the disease that rips away your personality, turns you in a wandering blithering aggressive idiot that smears faeces all over themselves. A disease that does not have the mercy to kill you as quickly as Covid-19…oh no, this one will trap you for years and years. It will grind away at your soul and scrape away every bit of your personhood. That is what they say will happen…
Imagine the fear, the anxiety, the desperate plea for help, and not finding any of it. The best advice you would get is to sell up and move into a care facility with a good “frail care”. The end. Oh no, sorry, not the end. The beginning of hell.
If this virus could teach us anything, I hope it teaches us about our own mortality. I hope it teaches us about our own precarity and vulnerability. I hope it teaches us to see what so many people are faced with when a system fails them, when society shuns them and their reality changes through a medical diagnosis. Please take this time to ask yourself the question “how would I wish to be” if ever a diagnosis of dementia becomes your reality. Take this time to consider your opinions of people living with a different ability, of your role in creating an inclusive environment for people living with dementia. Take the time to prepare yourself, like I hope you are protecting yourself against Covid-19, for your own ageing. It is never too late.
And while you are sitting in this temporary lockdown maybe feeling sorry for yourself, sipping a glass of wine with your dog on your lap, imagine the reality of thousands and thousands of people who have been in lockdown facilities in your own city or village, simply because their minds have changed.

Blurred days

The days are beginning to blur. Somehow I find myself wearing the same clothes now since – well, I am not sure when. In fact every time I have to think about what day it is I have to check on my cellphone. I am used to working from home, so I cannot understand why this suddenly feels so different. It must be because I suddenly do not have the option to escape. Go to my favourite coffee shop, take the dogs to the beach, have tea with my friends.
So one would think that having all this time at home we would all be super productive. I have hours of transcriptions to do for my PhD. Instead, I bake bread, I sketch, I potter in the garden. My attention span has shrunk to about five minutes before I get itchy and edgy. I am not depressed. I have locked in syndrome.
So much of what it must feel to live in a Care Home now starts making sense to me. I have often wondered why some Elders would just not be interested in participating in activities, joining others for tea in the sunroom or playing bingo. So many would retire to their rooms and just hang. Somehow, that is what I am doing now, hang. I feel in limbo, suspended. As if someone has pressed the “pause” button.
Why is that? There is no reason to not carry on with the “normal” activities, or work on my PhD. Why do I procrastinate day in and day out? Because this is not “normal”. We all feel a sense of disbelief, disconnect, disgruntled. We all have great aspirations of doing yoga, eating healthy, doing art. Many of us end up lying in front of the tv watching Netflix. For hours on end!
Is not exactly what we see in Care Homes? Elders withdrawing more and more, spending more and more time watching tv? Is it wrong? Do we feel we have to change that? Somehow we are caught in this dichotomy of Being, suspended between “I have to” and “I don’t want to!” Our worlds shrink. We have now read enough articles on Covid-19. There is a cupboard to sort out, gardening to do. Nah. Not in the mood.
Covid-19 is our teacher now, we the reluctant learners. We bicker and moan and protest – against what? Against introspection and contemplation. Against being slowed down, being grounded. How many of us have dreamed of having more “time”? And suddenly, we are given all the time in the world, yet we cannot mobilise ourselves to fill the time constructively.
I think the underlying reason for our apathy is a rebellion against the fact that we were told to lock down. Stay put. Our autonomy has been taken away in one fell swoop. Boom! Gone! And it leaves us – lost! Imagine the feeling of being “put” in a Care Home. As mich as you might have prepared for it, even planned for it, a major part of your autonomy will disappear the minute you move in. Decisions are made for you, rules to keep order, timetables to organise events.
We know all this, we see it. I hope Covid-19 will make us reconsider, now that we feel what it feels like to have little autonomy. I hope we will get to the point where we are so bored that we will truly grasp the detrimental effect that it has on the psyche. I hope Covid-19 teaches us what it feels like when we have very little choice, when others decide on our behalf. When we are not free to go as and where we please.
Maybe our eyes will open to see how important a sense of autonomy is for our wellbeing.

Let me Be

What happens to us when we cannot “go out”? I wrote about this yesterday, and woke up this morning with more thoughts in my head about this. I think back over many years of working in long term Care Homes. I thought of the “problems” we have had with Elders – and decided to make a list;
The many Elders who do not want to take a shower, Those Elders who hoard stuff in their rooms, The Elders who do not want to eat their food but keep on snacking, The edgy, irritable Elder who picks a fight with everyone, The Grumpy Elders who find it hard to smile, The couple in their tiny room who keep on fighting with one another, The “lazy” ones who do not want to get up in the morning, The Elders who refuse to participate in the activities we came up with, The Elders who wear the same clothes day in and day out, The Elders who take food from the dining room table to feed the pigeons.
The list continues, and I am sure many of you can add to the list.
Does this sound familiar to some of us now during lockdown? What is at the bottom of this reaction. And I deliberately use the word reaction. We often label this as “difficult behaviour”. Are we all showing difficult behaviour? Or is this a distressed reaction? Semantics – some of you would say. I think we need to take a closer look at ourselves, our own reactions, feelings, emotions.
Maybe I have little self discipline. Maybe I am still in a state of grief about my Father’s recent passing. Maybe I am depressed. Or maybe this reaction is normal. Maybe this isolation – in spite of Skype and Zoom and Facetime and Facebook – is eroding our sense of connectedness to the point where the above “behaviours” become a way of disengaging from our feelings of disconnection. Wow, it sounds serious! I think it is…
I want to take it a few steps further… This is not just about isolation and disconnection. I think it cuts to our very essence, our true Being-in-the-world. We are social Beings, we need close connections, we need to be held, to be heard, to be validated through our relationships. These are not sustainable through the internet. We cannot feel, hold, Be through a cell phone or a computer. We need to be in the presence of each other, literally and figuratively speaking. We smell. We observe a twitch or the way that arms are crossed, breathing….
This Covid-19 reality is our teacher. I am learning two things (so far):
To be even more mindful than ever before about the reactions of Elders to being locked down. And yes, they are locked down permanently, to a greater or lesser degree. To be with myself. As Sylvia Plath so poignantly said in The Waves: “How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table.
How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake.
Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”
Rayne 02/04/2020

The fear

There is so much we do not know. The world has gone into lockdown, billions of rands/dollars/euros are thrown at finding a cure for COVID-19. Suddenly we have a common enemy. Suddenly we are faced with a pandemic that might threaten us, as opposed to pandemics that are far removed from our reality. And the world comes to a standstill.
This intrigues me. Why is COVID-19 so powerful? Why does it cause so much fear? Is it a result of the power of social media? It kills old people. That has never bothered the world before…why the global frenzy now?
I do not pay attention to conspiracy theories, yet suddenly even some of those are alluring. We are all spinning like tops, going nowhere fast. What is happening? It feels as if the globe has been hit by a meteor, about as big as earth itself. We are reeling with shock.
How does this impact people living with dementia? In a discussion yesterday there was reference to how we could curb their anxiety. Medicate them? Restrain them?
I wonder how much we transfer anxiety to vulnerable people. I see it in some of my friends unintentionally transferring their anxieties to their children. It happens without our even knowing it. People living with dementia become hyper sensitive to our presence, or lack thereof. They feel our fears, insecurities, and irritation. That is what affects them.
I know we cannot always be perfectly calm and composed, especially not in the midst of so much uncertainty. Yet, I do believe that if we dive deep into our own feelings around this world event, we can find calm in the eye of the storm. It is a choice, a conscious decision that we can make. A decision to just Be.
This lockdown and everything that it brings is not necessarily the world for older people. Yesterday in a zoom meeting an Elder spoke to this – how we misunderstand and misinterpret what he as an 83 year old feels. He is not lonely, helpless or bored. He is irritated with how we project these things onto him, and how we do not hear him.
There is a generation gap that spans like an abyss between “us” and “them”. Try as we may, we will never be able to put ourselves into “their” shoes. Now that we taste a little bit of their medicine, being locked down, not free to come and go as we like, being at the mercy of an authoritarian system that tells us how we should be, we suddenly see a surge in sympathy, a mammoth effort to reach out to older people.
Guess what – this about us, not them. Older people have mostly adapted, they have found a space for quiet solitude. I think our frenzy is more about us than it is about them! I do however hope that we will be forced into trying to see the world more from their perspective through this journey.
If we can turn inward and really try to unlearn everything that we think older people need and want, and for once get to a point where we can truly BE with someone, we might learn more than we bargained for. Yes, there is anxiety. But, let us not confuse the anxiety with fear or depression. And more than that, let us sit with this anxiety, acknowledge it, embrace it. It is what it is. And let’s see what it is trying to teach us.
If I may be so bold to speak on behalf of older people, I would think that we are learning the following:
It is not the end of the world yet. Slow down, shut up, calm down, sit. Be still. Listen. Look me in the eyes, see me.
I do not need you to entertain me. I do not need you to constantly distract me. I do not want you to be cheerful on my behalf. I want you to be real, authentic. I need you to allow me to Be with you, to be there for you, to comfort you. I am not your duty, I am in this with you. Let me Be.

A quiet Sunday

This Sunday is more quiet than usual. The squirrels are frantically collecting food – it would seem that winter is getting closer and closer. The leaves on the Japanese maple are turning, the mornings are cooler. The sun has shifted so that I have to move the pot plants. A gentle rain falls in mid-morning, lasting for the rest of the day.
The silence seeps through our house like the autumn leaves swept indoors by die wind, gently settling on the carpet. I listen to Schubert and Mozart, then Mahler. The dogs follow me all over the house, not understanding why this Sunday there is nonwall to the beach.
I phone my Mother, as I always do on a Sunday. Since the death of my Father I feel that I should phone her every day. I don’t. She is chatty, telling me how much the wind is blowing there, that it is cold. Suddenly I wonder if they will have enough food for their fireplace, something my Dad always organised for them. In winter, their fire would burn day and night. “For the dog” they would say…
Living with memory loss, my Mother is missing big chunks of her life story. I have learned to not ask “do you remember?”. I would simply tell her the stories – when I recently slipped up and asked her if she remembers my sister’s wedding, I could see that it upsets her that that particular event is not longer in the database. It breaks my heart. I showed her the photographs. She said “is that me?”, pointing at her much younger self. “Yes”, I said. “Ek was nogal mooi…”.
In our chat she tells me how Sally (the dog) misses my Dad. Every morning they went to the shop to buy the newspaper. Sally always got a piece of biltong from the shopkeeper. If my Dad was a bit late, Sally would impatiently bark at the front door.
My Mother is very conscious of her memory loss. “Ek voel so dom” she keeps on saying to me. I really don’t know how to respond to that, other than saying that I can understand why she feels that way. It really is impossible to imagine what it must feel like to forget your own story, your memories, the emotions and feelings that go with those memories.
Yesterday I got a picture of her with her knitting, the caption says “ek brei tog, wê!” I know that she is trying to show me that she has not given up, even though she no longer knits any patterns, just straight rows that become snoods. I think of “keeping up appearances”, and how much energy goes into her efforts to show the world that everything is ok. It must be exhausting.
Somehow, living in the moment serves her well. Watching her favorite soapies, eating breakfast on the stoep, doing her exercises, knitting. Doing has been replaced by Being. All my life my Mother was a doer – gardening her favourite pastime. She worked hard all her life as a nurse, in her retirement often cared for others. She was always busy.
I now watch her slow movements through the day. She was known for her fast pace, you could hear her from far away coming down the passage in the old age home where she was the Matron. Haastig. Always going at a speed. Midwife. Ambulance driver. Death doula. Golfer. Badminton. Gardening.
Now, life has slowed her down. I can see that it is not easy for her. Whilst she is not confused, the loss of her story is hard to navigate. Yet, she is content. She never complains. She is extremely grateful for every gesture of care, every phone call, every visit.
My Mother turns 80 on the 30th of September. My fear that COVID-19 might take her life is paralyzing.

Precarity

Lockdown. We kick and scream and try everything in our power to negotiate our way out of this reality. We challenge the minister of Police. We try to find loopholes. The vitriol on Facebook about not being able to buy alcohol or go for a run or take the dog for a walk is beyond toxic and aggressive. Somehow, we will not, cannot, tolerate that this is happening to us. Regardless of horrific statistics of the number of deaths globally, we simply cannot get our heads around a lockdown.
Yet, we think nothing of our western culture that regularly sends older people into lockdown. At least we have the luxury of being locked down in our own homes, with our pets, our gardens, and our creature comforts. Can I implore you to try and contemplate for a moment what it must feel like to have to give up your home, have your dog put to sleep, sell your car, give away your furniture, photographs, beautiful linen and most of your clothes to move into a small apartment of room in an old age home?
Think of your own uncertainty, the fear, the anxiety around this Covid-19 virus. How it makes us all feel helpless. How this thing has made us feel desperate. Can I implore you to during this time try and imagine what it must feel like for someone living with dementia to be diagnosed. Most people know as much about dementia as they know about Covid-19 when they are diagnosed. And then they start trawling the internet, reading article after article on the horrors of the disease. Contradicting anecdotal fear mongering horror stories of the disease that rips away your personality, turns you in a wandering blithering aggressive idiot that smears faeces all over themselves. A disease that does not have the mercy to kill you as quickly as Covid-19…oh no, this one will trap you for years and years. It will grind away at your soul and scrape away every bit of your personhood. That is what they say will happen…
Imagine the fear, the anxiety, the desperate plea for help, and not finding any of it. The best advice you would get is to sell up and move into a care facility with a good “frail care”. The end. Oh no, sorry, not the end. The beginning of hell.
If this virus could teach us anything, I hope it teaches us about our own mortality. I hope it teaches us about our own precarity and vulnerability. I hope it teaches us to see what so many people are faced with when a system fails them, when society shuns them and their reality changes through a medical diagnosis. Please take this time to ask yourself the question “how would I wish to be” if ever a diagnosis of dementia becomes your reality. Take this time to consider your opinions of people living with a different ability, of your role in creating an inclusive environment for people living with dementia. Take the time to prepare yourself, like I hope you are protecting yourself against Covid-19, for your own ageing. It is never too late.
And while you are sitting in this temporary lockdown maybe feeling sorry for yourself, sipping a glass of wine with your dog on your lap, imagine the reality of thousands and thousands of people who have been in lockdown facilities in your own city or village, simply because their minds have changed.
Rayne Stroebel MSc (Dementia Studies)
+27 82 455 5300 rayne@mindsmatter.co.za <mailto:rayne@mindsmatter.co.za> www.mindsmatter.co.za <www.mindsmatter.co.za/>