by: Jackie Pinkowitz, Chair CCAL-Advancing Person-centered Living

Friends Having Lunch Together At A RestaurantA decade before the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) came into being, a dear friend and advocate introduced me to Margaret J. Wheatley’s social action book “turning to one another – simple conversations to restore hope to the future” [BK Publishers, 2002]. The book was written “…to encourage and support you in beginning conversations about things that are important to you and those near you… to step forward into action, to call together a few friends and colleagues, and start talking about what you most care about.” [p. 10]

Her belief in the power of conversation so resonated with me that I kept the book in my office these many years and referred to it often as our five organizations  held many conversations to create the DAA, a volunteer coalition committed to helping people live fully with dementia and supporting those who care about them.

Indeed, the DAA is engaged in changing our nation’s understanding of and attitude towards dementia by serving as a trusted source for education, conversations, and advocacy. Explore the 1st and 2nd Dementia  Thought Leaders Summits in our “What’s Happening” section and you will see a fundamental cornerstone of the DAA; i.e., a recognition that:

“Change doesn’t happen from a leader announcing the plan. Change begins from deep inside a system, when a few people notice something they will no longer tolerate, or respond to a dream of what’s possible. We just have to find a few others who care about the same thing. Together we will figure out what our first step is, then the next, then the next. Gradually, we become large and powerful. We don’t have to start with power, only with passion.” [p.25]

WE KNOW THAT THE VERY BEST WAY TO FEEL THE POWER OF CONVERSATION IS BY EXPERIENCING IT

So we invite you to sign up for our bi-monthly online Community Discussions with featured experts and advocates from the U.S. and around the globe. We use a ZOOM meeting platform that enables participants to see one another as we come together to engage in meaningful conversation.

This year, participants have already “experienced the power of conversation” as we interacted with:

• Professor June Andrews, Director of the Dementia Services Development Center at the University of Stirling, United Kingdom, an outstanding leader in Advancing Dementia Care Innovations in Scotland and around the globe, for a Special New Year discussion to advance innovations in the U.S.

• Anne Ellett (Nurse Practitioner, M.S.N., Gerontology Consultant & past Senior VP of Health Services at Silverado Senior Living) and Jayne Clairmont (President & CEO, English Rose Suites and b home Home Care) sharing thoughtful insights on the First Day of Spring as we all discussed How to Create Excellence in Person-Centered Dementia Care that Endures over Decades.

• Looking ahead to May, we will hear first-hand insights about the 30th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International, being held mid-April in Australia, from two Outstanding Advocates and Attendees: Kate Swaffer, Speaker, Author, Poet, “Creating Life with Words” Blogger living with younger onset dementia, from Australia and Dr. Al Power, Geriatrician, Author, and International Educator on Transformational Models of Care, from the U.S. will share their unique perspectives during an amazing transglobal discussion.

We hope you will accept our open invitation to participate in the DAA conversation as you so choose. Just e-mail us here.

Professor Andrews beautifully described our January conversation: “I Loved this Conversation. It felt like we were friends getting together at a pub or café”. Those of us who experienced it could not have agreed more!!

What better way to open our hearts and minds to consider issues that are vitally important to our families, our communities and our nation than by coming together in friendly conversation.

“As we learn from each other’s experiences and interpretations, we see the issue(s) in richer detail. We understand more of the dynamics that have created it. With this clarity, we know what actions to take and where we might have the most influence.” [p 26]

We know it will take a coordinated national effort of the collective talents, energies, and voices of many to bring forth the changes needed to make the U.S. a nation where people have access to person-centered dementia care, services and supports; are meaningfully engaged in their communities;and can live fully with dementia wherever they call home.

“A Nation Joined Will Make the Difference.”

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