There are those who would say it is simply not possible to build capacity in people who are losing capacity, and yet, there are many people with intellectual disabilities, or changed cognitive capacity including people with dementia, who have learned new things, and who have learned to do things differently in order to continue to function.
It is people in these groups whom people like Dr Norman Doidge have been researching, and I am glad I was a fan of his and other positive reactions to dementia and other illnesses, before the pundits who spoke as he was a freak. He was considered to be ‘non scientific’ by many medical specialists and science as well, and is now proving neuro plasticity and the brains ability to change and to heal.
My neuro-physiotherapist believes in it too! But my own medical doctors were and probably still are, not remotely interested in my brain healing itself or in it’s capacity to create new pathways, or even acknowledge that it has very likely changed in ways that have allowed me to function. What a disservice they are doing their other patients with dementia or changed cognitive capacity caused by other things, who could do with some support to live with changing cognitive capacity. Most of their stroke patients get support, and this came long before there was strong evidence for it. They continue to prefer to dish up the Prescribed Disengagement® as nauseum…
There was even a time when everyone thought the Earth was flat, and the oh so brave sailors, sailed towards the edge!
“When Columbus lived, people thought that the earth was flat. They believed the Atlantic Ocean to be filled with monsters large enough to devour their ships, and with fearful waterfalls over which their frail vessels would plunge to destruction. Columbus had to fight these foolish beliefs in order to get men to sail with him. He felt sure the earth was round.”
–Emma Miler Bolenius, American Schoolbook Author, 1919
Strong leaders want to build capacity in others and support them to become leaders, and that is what I want most for the members of DAI. We don’t want one or two people to be the super stars, we want as many members as humanly possible to stand up and speak for themselves, which is after all, their most basic of human rights. We want hundreds of leaders, people who simply want to live, not only die from dementia. I may currently be their leader, in that I am the Chair and CEO, but I am one of many who simply wants to live, as we advocate and support others with dementia to do the same.
Let’s hope our health care professionals soon start to realise there is capacity and yes, even leadership to be built and supported, even in people with dementia or other cognitive impairment. Through developing leaders, we are developing capacity, as well as teaching people how to live, and not only die from dementia.