Thursday, 1 September 2011

Taking a chance

I’m a cautious person by nature and experience. Much of my my training is about making progress slowly and carefully although it is also about going with the moment, working with “now” but sometimes that can get overlooked.
People living with dementia don’t have a lot of time to make slow, ordered progress. They can’t take time to build trust. Their world is immediate and often short lived in terms of memory. yet they are a shining example of willingness to take risks when there is some fun attached. I am continually amazed and impressed by their willingness to try anything imaginative with little knowledge of where it may go or what it might involve. There is some initial caution from some - quite right too -but all of them quickly get involved, share ideas and get stuck in. They embrace play in a way most of us take time to get to.
We can argue that their sense of self is different, they are less embarrassed by others’ potential opinion, but that is not always so.They say yes when they could say no.
This week the news featured an item on those whose memory it total. They forget nothing and have complete and instant recall. The impressive thing about them was that they approached every day thinking “I must make this count because it will always be with me.
At both ends of the memory spectrum there are people willing to take chances because that is where the true quality of their life is for them.
The action methods we use are such fun. The impact on me that working with people with dementia has had is totally positive. They have taught me that saying yes and taking a chance is so much more rewarding than standing in my own way. I haven’t seen the Jim Carey movie about saying yes yet but can I encourage all of us to say yes rather than no if at all possible?
Of course we shouldn’t take foolish risks. Most of us learn to assess risks once we make it through adolescence and realise we aren’t invincible. But then we stop a lot of our play.
using Improv, puppets and drama takes a long time with other groups because they have to get past their inner fogey saying “Don’t make a fool of yourself”.
The most fun I’ve had at work has come from doing just that. And when we do get groups past that barrier they grow and progress so fast.
So, don’t start climbing mountains, bungy jumping or going on the stage- unless you want to, but say yes to as many things as you can and see where it takes you.

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