What began as simply creating an art activity in a facility for residents with dementia turned into the direction the rest of my life has taken. When I realized and how dementia eventually isolated them in their own skin when it became difficult for them to express themselves to others, I knew I had to do something more than art. I needed to find a way to give them a voice.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been finding my voice so I can give them theirs. I created a picture communication process by which they communicated through images, held presentations and workshops, was interviewed on television and presented at conferences. Everything I did or said was to create an awareness that they were still with us even into the nonverbal stages. Then I wrote a book on the science and spirituality of dementia and continue to write articles on healthy aging and dementia.
But at 71, it’s hard not to feel my time is getting short and my energy is limited. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with this on my own anymore. I figured the world will be saved by someone else; it always is. I should just work in my garden, do art and watch movies. Years ago, while talking about some plans that fell through to an elderly woman with dementia, she looked at me over the rim of her bifocals, and with the voice of ancient wisdom said, “There’s our plan and then there’s God’s plan.”
Now I don’t pretend to know what God is but I do believe there is something bigger than all of us orchestrating the show; I call it the Universe. And since I don’t really know my own plans how could I know what the Universe has planned for me?
So last month, everyone’s plans came to a halt when we were thrust into the Coronavirus epidemic and confined to our homes. It seems my plan to just work in my garden, do art and watch movies became a reality. But then the Universe stepped in and presented something else.
A friend and neighbor had started a foundation and just received its nonprofit status. He was in the process of incorporating different types of projects whose mission it was to make the world a better place for those facing hardships. He had read my book and felt a project for those with dementia would fit into his foundation’s criteria. The best part was, I wouldn’t be doing it alone, I’d be part of an international team of experts in their fields.
Today, in the middle of a crisis that has brought the world to its knees I am up and running. The Infinite Mind Dementia Project has ignited a passion I thought lost, my reserves of energy are rising and I have found a direction and purpose I didn’t believe I would ever find again. Never did I imagined that in this time of world crisis when everyone is staggering on shifting sands, worried about the future, I am confidently moving forward feeling very sure-footed.
After all, “There’s our plan and then there’s God’s plan.”