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The theory of Presence

So I was asked this morning by the radio interviewer – “what is the one thing we can do to help a loved one at home who is living with dementia?” Naomi Feil, the mother of validation therapy always said “You really need to centre yourself. Stand on both feet, open your heart and your mind and look the person in the eye”. Prof. Andries Baardt, the father of the theory of presence, says that one cannot teach someone to care. It is a basic human instinct that some people have and others do not. The art of being present is the biggest gift that you can give anyone, but so much more so to people living with dementia. Forget the gimmicks and the tricks and the multi-sensory rooms and therapies. Give the gift of your presence – being attentive to the person with your whole body, your entire being. In the moment. Pause. Stop. Listen. Feel. In that moment you will honour the sacredness of the soul of that person.

Remember – dementia is a disease of the brain, not of the soul. The soul will always remain that of the person you know and love and care for. The brain will play games. The soul will long for genuine presence. Consciousness – which I think is seated in the soul – is never affected.

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