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Being vs Doing

Being vs. Doing. In many Care Homes, there seems to be an obsession with “doing” – creating an environment where people are kept busy and entertained and cajoled from the morning to the evening. Apart from the fact that there is no evidence that this has many positive results, I often feel for people who are not able to escape. Activities are important, I do not argue with that. However – how many activities do we perform outside of our daily routines? I do ceramics once a week – that is my activity. I often wonder if we do these activities for our own sake or for the sake of the Elders… Is it our way of keeping ourselves busy? Or maybe a way of making the time pass….?

As emphasized in yesterday’s post, just BEING with someone who is forgetful (or sick, vulnerable, or old) is the biggest gift that you can give. Being with someone is validating that their presence counts, that you do not have to make things or do things to connect.

So many Caregivers are not allowed to just sit with an Elder – in fact, many are being watched on cameras to make sure that they are “working”. It is impossible to always be busy doing things with people living with dementia. So many end up in front of a television…

Being fully present with someone who is living with a different reality means that you honour THEIR reality, you will respect THEIR space/thoughts/feelings and meet them where they are at, with your full being.

This is something I am beginning to understand more and more within myself – to actually BE with myself. I practice being alone, quiet, still. I would not call it meditating, never have been good at that. But just simply being – staring at the waves crashing on the beach, watching the clouds passing above, the little sugarbirds drinking from the red water that I put in the garden for them. And maybe one day when I start to forget I will have perfected the art of being.

The biggest gift then will be to be alone in nature. Do not try and cajole me into doing anything. Music maybe – Liszt to cheer me up, Schumann to calm me down. I will be happy to sit and look out the window. And to be in the presence of kindness. That will be enough for me.

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