by Christopher D. Perna
CEO, The Eden Alternative, Inc.

Let’s start by closing your eyes and saying to yourself the words “I am a hero” either silently or out loud. Don’t believe it? Say it again…”I am a hero.” Hopefully, you’ve done what I’ve asked and now I’ll tell you why.

I heard Dr. Bill Thomas recently define a hero as a person who chooses to make changes and do things differently. He emphasized that these don’t even have to be big changes. They can be small, incremental changes. Does it seem like this makes it too easy to qualify? Well, can we agree that it takes courage to make changes and do things differently, especially when it goes against conventional thinking? Since it is courage that ultimately makes a hero, I think Dr. Thomas’ definition works. But does it apply to you?

If you are reading this blog, there is a very good chance you are a hero. Try answering the following questions to see if you are. Do you choose to see the person and not their dementia? Do you believe people can live fully with dementia? Do you choose person-centered dementia care over the traditional medical model of care? Are you changing your language to reflect person-centered values in the words you use? Do you support the work of the Dementia Action Alliance to give a voice to persons living with dementia?

If you answered yes to some or all of these, you are a hero because the choices you are making do not represent conventional thinking. You dare to be different, and even though it is for the right reasons, it takes courage.

The DAA thanks you and wants to bring you and other heroes together as a force to help change attitudes about dementia. So, if you know any other heroes, invite them to join us. It will take courage and persistence, but with heroes like you, we can show others how it can be different!