Dear Dementia Action Alliance Friends:
On the evening of March 14th at the Great Minds Gala in Washington DC, our esteemed Board member Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Halperin and Dr. Sanjay Gupta were honored as recipients of the Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award for Sandy’s tireless advocacy efforts as well as the CNN documentary “Sandy’s Story,” chronicling his personal journey of living with dementia.
We could think of no better way to honor Sandy and his wonderful family and friends on the morning of his very special day than by bringing together over 30 people including those living with dementia, family members and other care partners, community aging leaders, healthcare practitioners and service providers to launch our first Community Caring Conversation, an open, friendly community conversation about living fully with dementia:
We began by quoting the renowned expert Margaret Wheatley:
“Conversation is the best way to discover what people really care about. It is possibly the most powerful way to build trust and openness between people. It takes just one person to have the courage to begin a conversation. Others are eager to talk; they’re just waiting for someone to begin.” Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (2009)
We gained amazing insights from those living the experience, both in person and via video, as they open-heartedly shared their feelings about who they are; their talents and interests; their sorrow over being stigmatized and isolated in communities where they live.
“Know Me, My Preferences and Priorities for Care and for Living Fully with Dementia Wherever I Reside.” Sandy Halperin
We heard professional and personal concerns from others about the status quo; that this is a human rights issue that must be addressed; and their hopefulness that these kinds of conversations and collective national awareness efforts could change our national culture from exclusionary to inclusionary and advance meaningful living for all individuals with dementia.
We concluded by asking participants to READ OUR NEW WHITE PAPER “Living with Dementia: Changing the Status Quo”; consider WHAT YOU CAN DO to change the status quo and GET INVOLVED in our national coalition of passionate people dedicated to making America a better place for people to live fully with dementia and that supports their families and other care partners. We hope that all readers of this open letter will consider doing so as well!
We Extend our Sincerest Gratitude to our dear partners Linda DeMario, Whitney Oeltman , and Robin Andrews of the Dementia Spotlight Foundation for their caring and generous support; Sandy Douglass, the most person-centered CEO and her incredible team at Forest Hills Inclusive Senior Living Community for their superb hospitality hosting us; and our thoughtful, caring participants who so generously shared their time and insights with us.
We are looking forward to our next Community Caring Conversation on May 13th in Atlanta, GA.
Karen Love, DAA Executive Director
Walter Coffey, DAA Co-Leader & Conversation Facilitator
Jackie Pinkowitz, DAA Co-Leader