“What If…”

Back in July, I did a “What if…” series on Instagram. It started off as one thought that occurred to me after having attended the Fox Valley Symphony’s concert at the ballpark but kept going. I wrote and shared a few of them, but I had many more floating in my head. Life can be a lot of “what ifs” and “why not” and it can be a lot of dreaming, and a lot of regrets. Each person I have worked with has had their own list of “what ifs’ and “why not” and I receive them as great gifts, a passing down of wisdom from one generation to another. I have learned that many regrets come from dreaming too much, and not acting enough. I have learned that many joys have come from not the moments of triumphs, but of putting an idea into action. I have learned as the granddaughter of someone with dementia what I wish I had when she was still alive, what I wish I had learned, what programs were in place, and who I benefited from having in my life as I switched from my personal story of dementia to the professional. So, with that said, I would like to put an idea into action and I want you to come with me. I am seeking collaborators. People willing to gather to put into motion visions for a better world, for a better chance of joy and hope for those living with dementia. This must include people living with dementia in some way as we cannot do it without their guidance. I will share all the posts below, but the one that I still get inquiries about is the idea of our universities become better places for growth, support, and learning. 

The post went like this, “what if our universities and high schools become dementia friendly? Places that offer music, art, public lectures and events, and are locations that are sometimes more accessible than the local performing arts center or museum. What if places such as large universities like UW Madison and Yale who already have Alzheimer’s Research Centers and programs like the NYU Aging Incubator to small state schools like UW Fox Valley become Purple Angels? Training staff and educating students in small but impactful ways about dementia, new ways to become relational with those in our community who are living with dementia. What might the ripple effect of this small movement be for all of us?”

If you would like to collaborate with me to see how big the ripple effect can grow, reach out. If you have thoughts, concerns, or ideas let me know. I look forward to working with you. 

The other “What If…” posts

Music to fill our hearts. On Saturday I had the great joy of attending the Fox Valley Symphony’s free concert at the ballpark titled Brats Beer and Beethoven. This outing has become a tradition for my family and one we look forward to attending. This year, as I was sitting listening to everything from West Side Story to the United States Armed Forces Medley, to Beethoven’s 5th, seeing how the music was impacting those around me, people of all ages and backgrounds, families, friends, and co-workers, I was reminded of the power of live music. So often we get stuck with or iTunes library and Pandora accounts that we forget just how powerful it can be to sit and listen to the waves of music coming from a stage (or a baseball field) and what it can be for our minds, bodies, and souls. While a concert like this may not be completely accessible for all living with dementia it should not be ruled out. May we find ways to make our local symphonies, university music programs, and high school band and choir concerts dementia friendly. It would not take much, and the reward and community benefit would go beyond any time or money spent.

What if our real estate agents and construction and remodel companies were dementia friendly? Some people living with dementia live best at home, others in a care community. One would hope that family existed that would stand by their loved one with dementia and help them through the processes of moving or making their home safe, but sadly this is not always the case, nor if it is, is the family aware of all that can go into making a home for someone with dementia. Moving or remodeling a home are not easy transitions and changes for anyone, and if you are being taken advantage of, or are struggling to express your needs and wants for your home/move, it is even worse. By having our real estate agents, and skilled workings in the industry (from contractors to plumbers to electricians, to carpenters and designers) understand dementia and share that they are dementia friendly with their clients, a sigh of relief can wash over the individuals, a level of trust enters into the relationship, and the best outcomes can be produced. 

As a partner with Distinctive Renovations, we are making a start to this new way of living with dementia t home. But we cannot do it alone, nor should we. If you have questions about how to get started bridging the gap. Let me know. I would be happy to speak with you.

What if our churches and religious and faith-based organizations had staff trained in dementia? What if these places allowed those who find the sacred within these communities were welcomed to continue to practice their faith even as dementia progresses?

Published by Kathryne Fassbender

Creative Gerontologist, Speaker, Catholic Innovator. I am also the granddaughter of someone who lived with Vascular Dementia.

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