An Exceptional Day! by Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks
Has there ever been someone in your life you wanted to meet and just were not sure if it would ever happen?
A man came into my life via the internet. No it was not an online dating service or some chat room experience. This was a man I found via my passion for knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease. I was introduced to him via the friend, Kim Prayfrock who works at Oak Meadows in Minnesota. http://www.oak-meadows.org/index.htm Kim is one of those go getters who is always searching for new ways, new answers to old questions, and she always shares the great information and resources she finds with others. The day Kim sent me an email about a man named Dr. Richard Taylor, was a blessed day for me. Kim wrote me something to the effect, “Lori I think you will be very interested in following Richard. He speaks on Alzheimer’s and his prospective is unique and honest. Let me know what you think.”
I have to be honest I don’t remember the date of Kim’s email, but I do remember the impact it had on me. From that day forward I told myself, “Someday I will meet Dr Richard Taylor.”
The universe works in miraculous ways. Another friend and colleague of mine, Judy Berry of Lakeview Ranch http://www.lakeviewranch.com and who just received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2010 Community Health Leaders Award, had a fund-raiser for her Dementia Care Foundation http://www.dementiacarefoundation.org The Keynote Speaker for the night was non other than Dr Richard Taylor! To my delight another colleague who I had not met before, was also going to be speaking – G Allen Power, MD.
What a fantastic night October 7th, 2010, was. Allen kicked off the fund-raiser talking about his new book. Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care, which he shared many helpful tips and a wonderfully refreshing perspective on dementia. For more information on his book go to: http://www.healthpropress.com/store/power-29562/index.htm
Dr Richard Taylor
And then there was Richard. He is hard to put into words, but Richard felt like a kindred soul as I saw him across the room. We have never met, nor spoke on the phone, just corresponded by emails on occasion. We seem to speak the same language in terms of our vision for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Care. I say treatment of care as there is no cure for the disease. It’s all about our relationships. How we chose to treat one another and how we choose to communicate with each other. As soon as Richard and I met, we hugged like old friends. It was hard for me to believe we had never met.
As Richard spoke that night he mentioned how friends and family hugged him after his diagnosis. He said, “It was not a Hello Hug or a How are you doing Hug. It was a Goodbye Hug. People saw Richard in a new light; one of impending death. It is amazing how a label can change our reactions when our fears take hold of us. As Richard spoke, many in the audience were brought to tears. His honesty and insights helped many heal the pain as he offered new ways to care, via practical tips easy to apply in our everyday lives.
For me it was just plain wonderful to meet another person who understands my passion and purpose in life. I can only hope this Advocate on Steroids thing I have about Alzheimer’s disease is growing in numbers so that someday we may have better care options along with a cure for the disease. Richard seems to share my passion regarding Alzheimer’s disease, but in a more intimate way. Richard lives with the disease not as a caregiver but as a person diagnosed with dementia. He is a blessing to all of us, as he shares so beautifully the inside scoop of what it is really like to have memory problems. His ability to communicate his feelings and to describe the variables between standard techniques used today and how they impact and are perceived by someone who actually has Alzheimer’s is amazing. His tone and humor will touch of toughest of souls.
Richard talks of how the simple lies told to someone with dementia, many times to control their emotional state, and how it confuses things building a lack of trust. He urges both professionals and loved ones to look at what is still there vs. measuring what has been lost. He stated, “A person has as much potential before dementia as after.” He talks of not just focusing on “Who a person was” and what they used to do, but “WHO THEY ARE TODAY.” I could continue to rattle off more Richardisms, but I would not do him justice. Please check out Richard’s website listed below and you will see the possibilities and potential of a person with Alzheimer’s disease and be WOWED! Kudos Richard! You are leading the pack and have so much to be proud of.
Richard has also written a book - Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out, which can be purchased on his website at http://www.richardtaylorphd.com/ along with his DVD called Be with me Today.
I highly encourage anyone who has not heard Richard speak to go to his website and watch a couple of his videos, sign up for his newsletter, and routinely check back on his site. Richard has so much to share with the world.
The only regrets I have from that night is not having Richard sign my copy of his book and not getting a photo with him. You see, Richard feels like family to me and those friends who feel like family; well I just like having a photo with them! No worries though, Richard will forever be ingrained in my heart. In fact, in the future when I get frustrated on my own path Driving Change in how Illness and Aging is Perceived, Received or Delivered; I will think of headway my friend has made and continues to make each day. I will smile knowing my frustration will pass and progress will continue thanks to people like Richard.
Now that I have met Richard, today my hope is to someday share the stage with Richard presenting our unique insights from different viewpoints; Richard who is living with Alzheimer’s disease and me from the caregiver side. For those of you who don’t know my background, my Mother Dorothy has battled memory problems for 30 years and is now in her end stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
For additional resources please check out our resource website http://www.AlzheimersSpeaks.com
Last I just want to say thank you to all the special people in my life who support me in my mission with Alzheimer’s disease. I couldn’t do what I do without you!
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