My wish is that all those living with dementia are wealthy. Um, what? Yes, wealthy. Not wealthy in terms of having a lot of money in your investment portfolio, although wouldn’t that be nice. I am speaking of a different kind of wealth. My wish is that all those living with dementia have hope and community. As caregivers and as fellow persons living with dementia, each one of us can play a role in this wealth.
When we speak of hope, there a grand hope that one day a cure will be found, that care communities will truly become home for those that live there, that persons with dementia will be universally accepted as part of the conversation and education of dementia, and that every town across the globe can call themselves dementia friendly. These are the grand hopes that blog posts, speeches, and research grants place at their core. There are also little hopes, hopes that we can foster each and every day. Hope does not need to be for the years ahead or even the next day. There is wealth of hope if all we have hope for is the next moment. To have hope for an afternoon visit, a chat with a neighbor, an outing or activity we enjoy later that day, a good meal, a smile from someone we see, a moment of peace. If we help foster hope by the way we conduct our care, become relational with the individual, and in our planning of outings, actives, and meals, we allow for each person living with dementia to be wealthy in hope. We cannot force someone to become hopeful, or tell them they must be filled with hope, but we can foster the growth of it, and much like a laugh, it is contagious.
We seek community, all of us do in some way or another. For some a community of three is just right, for others, the larger the better. Wherever one sits on that spectrum, if we have that community we seek, we are wealthy. We are beings designed for connection and without connection, through isolation, well…that can kill us. Our physical and mental health relies on having a community. When someone has dementia, that need for community becomes even more important in order to maintain a quality of life. Let us be present and community to one another.
Yes, my hope is that all living with dementia are wealthy. Wealthy in hope and community, two kinds of wealth where money is not counted.