As a nation we are not good at listening. We often only hear the things we want to. We miss so much because we’re preparing to speak rather than actively listening to what people are saying to us.
No wonder there are so many misunderstandings in life.
One of the first things you learn when caring for people with dementia is to listen properly and give them time to express themselves. It makes such a massive difference as they can see you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.
I recently attended an Alzheimer’s Society conference to consider how the leisure industry could do more to help dementia families. It was titled “Hearing the voices of people with dementia”. To see this title was a breath of fresh air to me.
All too often we think we know what support people need without asking them – basically ignoring the people that really matter – those with dementia.
The day did not disappoint and included many thought-provoking presentations and discussions about what people with dementia want from life – and how the leisure industry can make their wishes a reality.
For me the message was loud and clear. It resonated so loudly because it was delivered by two amazing people – Joy & Alex – both diagnosed with dementia.
Here’s my summary of the day that I wrote for the Alzheimer’s newsletter.
“The whole day was inspirational”
“However, the highlight was meeting and listening to Alex and Joy who told us about their amazing achievements, ambitions and determination to remain in charge of their lives – not letting their dementia dictate it!
To me, that was music to my ears and endorsed my belief that the people we help need to be at the heart of everything we do.
The content, duration and start times of our golf days have been determined by involving the whole family. Without this the sessions would not have achieved so many positive outcomes.
It was refreshing to hear Joy & Alex’s views on “taking risks” and doing what they wanted to do – so many times we’ve been told that golf is too risky – but we’ve proved the doubters wrong!!
The new charter of “we have the right to ….” was fantastic to hear as it completely transforms the approach to supporting people.
Being a “dementia pioneer” can be a lonely place at times as you struggle to gain support for your social dream, but knowing that you are “giving people the right to play golf”, even when dementia tries to get in the way, gives you the determination to carry on.
The whole day was a massive endorsement that Golf In Society is on the right track – letting people enjoy life to the full, even when dementia tries to get in the way”.
So the message could not be clearer – LISTEN to and DELIVER what people with dementia want from life.
If all of us commit to this philosophy, the dementia journey will be a much happier one for all concerned.