Our community is launching a program to make our town a Dementia Friendly Community, which includes helping community members learn about the various forms and severity of memory issues, recognize common behaviors and needs of people with memory issues, suggest useful ways to interact with people who have memory issues, and identify measures the city can adapt to make our town more accommodating.
The program will kick off with a week of programs and activities focused on resources available in the community, presentations by experts on various topics such as the effects dementia has on caregivers, a simulations program of what dementia feels like, and how hospice serves patients with various types of dementia as they approach end-of-life decisions.
The director of the program, who is a friend and reader of my blog, asked me to be the key note speaker. Of course, I agreed. Then she asked if the local newspaper could interview me. I said yes once more…but not without a bit of hesitation.
While my close friends know of my diagnosis, I had not publicly ‘outed’ myself, other than through my blog posts here. But after this article was published, many people who have known me through my consulting business or worked with me on boards or volunteering would be aware of my issues with MCI.
It’s been almost a month since the story appeared on the front page, along with a picture of Keith and me, under the headline ‘Silence doesn’t serve us well.” As expected, I’ve received emails from many people thanking me for my ‘courage’ and honesty. And when I’m out and about the same is true; everyone is very gracious.
The positive comments help confirm my belief that sharing our stories is the best way to help each other face difficulties. There is great comfort in knowing we are not alone in what we are experiencing, and in the opportunity to gain insight from how others cope. Yes, it takes courage to openly admit I’m not as capable as I once was—not as sharp, not as articulate. To admit I no longer drive, nor can I participate on boards, and that socializing in large crowds is very difficult.
But the more I write, speak, and show up, the more I feel I still have something of value to contribute. Even if is helping just one other person feel a little less alone.
Note: If you are interested in attending my keynote presentation, it is
April 3 from 4-5 p.m. at the Friendship Center.
UPDATE: Due to winter weather, the event has been postponed to Tuesday, April 10 at 4pm.