Dr. Allen Power, my partner for the Presence Care Project was in town this week, and our time was spent in many meetings and presentations to various elder care communities. The Presence Care Project is about developing a mindfulness-based approach to training care partners of persons living with dementia, with the hope that both greater well-being will result in both care partners and the ones in their care. I felt a great sense of accomplishment as we made great inroads into the development of the project. And I could not help but think back on the time nine months ago when the idea arose for the project, all because of this person:
To my mother, I owe the experience of being with her since the beginning of her forgetfulness, and the ability to notice what a difference mindfulness practice made in our relationship. From feeling only grief, to a growing acceptance of her in the moment, even appreciating new aspects of her personality that have been freed as a result of her condition. From my experience at Zen Hospice, I became further convinced of the power to heal the forgetful ones with a mindfulness-based approach to caring. Many times at the Laguna Honda Hospice ward, I saw a dramatic difference, between the way forgetful residents happily responded to us, the Zen Hospice volunteers, and the way they would become agitated when interacting with the regular staff. Last, with his now well researched Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, Jon Kabat-Zinn showed me that it was possible to successfully bring mindfulness into a mainstream institutional setting, and gave me a foundation upon which to solidly stand.
Then it was only a matter of a few months before a team was formed, first with Dr. Allen Power, author of the book 'Dementia Beyond Drugs', and more recently Dr. Leslie Ross, a researcher with UCSF. We have received enquiries from many places, including Singapore, Australia, the UK, France, and of course various communities in the U.S. And we are gearing up to implement the training in several elder communities in the Bay Area. We want this to be an evidence-based research project that can been easily replicated in communities everywhere.
Amazing the places the heart can take you . . .