3 min read
Three top tips for effectively CONNECTING with people living with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss!
Adapted from the MOVING Together Home Exercise Guide
The MOVING Together program is a novel online movement program designed for people living with mild dementia and their care partners. One of the goals of the MOVING Together program is to provide principles and skills to help people live as well as possible with memory loss. Learn 3 top MOVING Together tips to help you and your loved ones living with memory loss improve your connection and quality of life.
SENSE & BREATHE - Developing Awareness of the Present Moment
Our minds like to be active. Our minds often wander and think about the past or the future. These thoughts can give rise to powerful emotions. In people with memory loss, the distinctions between past, present, and future can become blurred, and the emotions triggered by these thoughts can be confusing.
In the MOVING Together program, we bring attention to the present moment, the ‘here and now.’ Focusing on our breathing and being aware of our bodily sensations can have a calming, grounding effect.
We begin each MOVING Together class with body awareness exercises that include deep breathing and tapping, touching, massaging, and naming body parts. Learning to be more aware of our bodies in the present moment – to SENSE & BREATHE – may help us become more aware of the world around us.
When we take the time to check in with ourselves, we can notice our breathing, notice how we are feeling in the moment. What do we notice? What are we feeling? Notice our emotions. Notice our body sensations. We can appreciate our experience of being in this moment, be it challenging or not. Breathe into and through what is, include all of what you feel in this moment.
ENJOY & EXPLORE - Creating an Open, Loving, Joyful Environment
When we become aware of our agendas, expectations, judgements, or concepts of right and wrong, we have an opportunity to discover how they might be influencing us at any given moment.
Most of us worry sometimes about whether we are doing things right or wrong, or what other people are thinking about us. That worry can be distancing, distracting and can make it harder to learn and harder to enjoy the things that are important to us.
When we endeavor to accept what is present in ourselves and each other, without judging or correcting, we encourage curiosity and openness to new experiences, inviting a ‘beginner’s mind.’
We recognize that, as humans, our brains are designed to learn. The best way to learn is to have fun and to experiment. This is sometimes called ‘errorless learning.’ Each person learns in their own way and in their own time. ENJOY & EXPLORE the learning process together.
PATIENCE, RESPECT & DIGNITY
Patience and Respect are qualities that may help us maintain Dignity.
PATIENCE allows us to recognize that each person has their own way of learning and processing, and their own pace and creative interpretation of that learning. In any given moment, we are all doing the best we can.
RESPECT is another way of saying that we hold ourselves and each other in “high regard.” When we have high regard for ourselves and each other, then we can honor the need for dignity.
DIGNITY is our inherent value and worth as human beings. We support each other with a sense of dignity by practicing patience and respect.
Being curious to learn about our loved ones in the moment, we might observe subtle responses in facial expressions and body responses, and then ask questions to learn more. Explore your loved one’s past and present interests, hobbies, background, favorite music, and favorite physical activities which gave them a sense of dignity and joy.
Take a moment to reflect on these suggestions, give them a try, and perhaps start a journal. Reach out and let us know how they have helped you and your loved ones. Stay in touch and stay tuned for more tips from MOVING Together!
Next week, top 6 MOVING Together tips for effectively ENGAGING with people living with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss.
If you are interested in MOVING Together or you would like to hear more about Together’s online programs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Lee is passionate about effectively engaging older adults living with memory loss. She is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and serves as the Prevention of Loss of Independence through Exercise (PLIÉ) Research Study Senior Instructor, and the Together Senior Health, MOVING Together Senior Instructor.