Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., offers this insight in her 1994 book entitled Kitchen Table Wisdom: “ ‘Human Being’ is more a verb than a noun. Each of us is unfinished, a work in progress. Perhaps it would be most accurate to add the word ‘yet’ to all our assessments of ourselves and each other. Jon has not learned compassion…yet. I have not developed courage…yet. It changes everything. I have seen the ‘yet’ become real even at the very edge of life….”
Let us apply that potent thought to the challenges faced by caregivers of older adults living with dementia-type cognitive decline for a moment: “ I have not been able to communicate with Mom…yet.” “I cannot understand Dad’s behavior…yet.” “ I am not able to help alleviate Mrs. Smith’s stress and agitation…yet.”
What a difference the addition of the word “yet” makes to our outlook! That one little word reminds us that the act of connecting with others is not dead or stagnant despite age or cognitive decline. We should not simply write off people because they are difficult to understand or different from the way they were. We should look for ways to respect their humanity by entering their world and helping them with their journey.
I urge you to look into the Validation method and sign up for an internet supported course, webinar, or other program and download materials to learn more about using the Validation method and techniques to make your own ‘yets’ become real.
By: Fran Bulloff, VTI President
The Validation Training Institute (VTI) is a non-profit organization that advances knowledge, values, education and research rooted in the Validation method. The objective is to nurture respect, dignity and well-being in the lives of older adults experiencing age-related cognitive decline and their caregivers. Our vision for the future is that every older adult experiencing age-related cognitive decline, and their caregiver, can feel the joy and love of meaningful communication.