The Person Comes First

Much of the content of this unit has been about the changes and losses that occur as a result of dementia. Knowing how dementia impacts the different areas of abilities is an essential tool in understanding how to adapt your program – for your environment, in your approach, and in your activity to accommodate for these changes but this is not the whole story. We will explore how to apply this knowledge in each of these areas in subsequent modules.

There is a saying, ‘if you have met one person with dementia, then you have met one person with dementia’. Each person is a unique individual with a lifetime of experiences. Damage to the brain from dementia doesn’t change this. Our goal in Artful Moments is to support each person to continue to participate and build further life experiences.

Always remember, each participant you encounter is unique. They have a life story full of experiences, relationships and knowledge gained over a lifetime and it is important to keep this in the forefront of any interactions with others. Everyone will bring their own ideas and interpretations to a work of art, a museum collection or an outdoor space, and a program like Artful Moments has the unique privilege of connecting with each person’s story through conversation and hands-on activities. In addition, while dementia may impact a participant’s ability to communicate in the same way they used to, it does not change their need to connect with others, to communicate, to feel a sense of belonging, and to share love and friendship. Every participant wants to feel hopeful, to feel valued and respected, and to feel understood. Each participant wants to be productive in a meaningful way, to be useful and successful, to contribute to society, and to be inspired.