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Be Still and Know…

Would we ever fully understand or comprehend the lived reality or being-in-the-world of the person living with dementia? It seems impossible to stand in someone else’s shoes. That old saying of “you cannot know another person before you have walked a mile in their shoes” is how we illustrate empathy. Can we ever truly do that for someone living with dementia? I don’t think so.

I think we should stop trying to cure out what people with dementia are going through – it only leads to more so-called therapeutic interventions and gimmicks to cajole them back into our reality. If we truly respect the lived reality of a person living with dementia, we will simply meet them where they are at, and walk alongside them. Whilst I do think and have seen some therapeutic interventions that could bene t, they are often used to make US feel better! It gives us a sense of achievement when a smile breaks through or a few words are spoken.

I think the best that we can do is not try and walk in their shoes, but to walk alongside them. At their pace. To move with them so that they feel our presence, that we allow ourselves to be guided rather than to guide. To be rather than to do. Why is this so difficult – yet it sounds so simple? Can it be that in this fast-paced world of ours we simply cannot be still anymore? Could it be that in our rush to get things done and sort things out we have lost our Selves, and that we are no longer guided by this Sacred Self? That we can hardly be still with ourselves, let alone with someone who lives in a different stillness?

Caring for someone living with dementia is possibly one of the most difficult challenges that any person can face. It will stand you in good stead if you can learn to be still with that person. Really, truly, still. When I turned 50 I had my first tattoo. It says “be still, and know that I am God”. If you want to truly connect, be still.

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