February 23, 2015

The Oscars & Alzheimers

Last night I watched the Oscars for the first time. Controversies and issues with the Academy aside, I was really happy to see famous, talented artists bring up Alzheimers on stage and that so much work in the mainstream media was done on the topic of it this year!

For those of you who don't know, I work as an art instructor at the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, an academy for people with Alzheimers and dementia. It is truly an incredible experience and I am beyond fortunate to have fallen into this position at this particular academy. My coworkers are fantastic, the participants are inspiring and so full of knowledge and humour and stories and it is just so so so so so wonderful that I get to be a part of their lives in this small way; painting with them, laughing with them, drawing, brainstorming, talking to them, listening. Their stories are my favourite thing to listen to on a Monday morning and I wouldn't have it any other way right now.

I love this job. It has taught me so much about human nature and the fragility of it. It is humbling and I am reminded every time I work of how fortunate I am - sometimes literally, by participants, encouraging me to travel and live and experience while I can. It can be really hard to talk to those who are entirely aware of what is happening to their minds, but the experience is so positive for everyone thrives in this environment we've created at the academy and it is so lovely to see.

I highly encourage you to read a book, watch a movie, volunteer at a senior's home or similar program, do SOMETHING, to inform yourself about Alzheimers and memory loss.

Don't know where to start?
• Watch Still Alice - the film Julianne Moore won an Oscar for last night (I plan to read it - it was a book first!)
• Read this article and watch the video about a 'Dementia Village' created in Holland as an alternative to a typical senior's home! It's so incredible!
• Listen to the song Glen Campbell wrote for his wife and daughter when he found out he had Alzheimers which Tim McGraw sang at the Oscars last night as well.
• Watch a video and read more about the philosophy at the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy (My work place!!) and our approach to dealing with Alzheimers and Dementia!

FAIR WARNING. These may be a bit upsetting (the song especially made me cry a little). Know it is not my intention to be a downer or upset anyone, more so just to raise awareness and use my experience with Alzheimers and Dementia as a reminder:

Take advantage of your health, your youth, your ability to DO and to learn. Take care of your body and your mind. Experience everything while you can.


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