I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago about Positive Ageing.
I’m all for positive ageing. Positive anything, really (especially bank accounts).
Part of the discussion was around how you could make life much more meaningful for people with dementia by involving them in sensory experiences like music, sensory gardens and other things which don’t rely on your cognitive abilities.
So, concluded the researcher/therapist, even people who don’t remember their own names can still experience ‘successful ageing’.
Ok, let’s redefine success. As living.
There’s a lot of bullshit talked in ‘helping’ circles.
That said, anyone who does have a relative with dementia might find these therapies interesting to read about, because (up to a point) dementia can be slowed and soothed. As the brain falls gently away, a person can still find pleasure at last in the things that brought them pleasure at first – touch, warmth, security, rhythm, melody, fragrance. When the present loses meaning, for a while the past becomes the present, so that a person who forgets the face of their grown son can see it again in their four year old grandson.
When your mind is active but your body is failing, then you are as much you as ever you were. But when your mind is failing, dying piece by piece, who are you? Where are you? When are you, not?