Living ‘In the Moment’

When working with people living with dementia you will hear terms like ‘engagement in the moment’ used frequently. To understand the importance of this concept, think back to Module 2, where you learned that people with dementia may experience a gradual loss of memory such that they have difficulty learning new things, remembering past events or information. By engaging the participant ‘in the moment’ memory demands on the participant are reduced thereby maximizing the participants ability to engage. For some participants, each session is a singular experience and memories from previous sessions should not be relied upon.

As the facilitator, this means planning, acting and reflecting on experiences as they happen, individually from one moment to the next rather than over a longer period of time and avoiding the need for participants to remember previous sessions. This also means encouraging each person’s abilities and supporting the changes they experience to make the moment they are in the best they can be. Living in the moment means empowerment, respect and validation for the participant.

In a recent blog post, Kim Warchol of the Crisis Prevention Institute reminds us that, “When we meet a person who is living with a chronic, progressive disease like dementia and focus on where they are in the moment instead of harkening back to who they used to be, we see a capable individual”. (https://www.crisisprevention.com/en-CA/Blog/living-with-dementia-means-living-in-the-moment

Engagement in the Moment means:

  • An experience that is designed for self-expression, creativity, imagination, social connection, and feeling valued, rather than strictly to convey information
  • Activities that are not dependent on previous sessions, so that memories of earlier experiences are not required for success. Keep in mind that many participants will recall their previous experiences, so also allow participants to build on previous visits through their own connections and insights
  • Reframe the your idea of ‘success’ to match with the Artful Moments philosophy, and help participants and their friends and family do the same 
  • Focus on facilitating positive experiences as they happen. Be flexible and responsive. Follow where your group leads, and have fun as you go!
  • Reflect on and identify your own expectations to define what is ‘success’ for this program, and embrace the moment.
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