I can’t think of a better way to introduce the recently published book that I co-authored with Sandy Sabersky. It was very touching to receive Ellin’s words this morning and I am delighted to share them with you. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of bringing Sandy’s approach to a wider audience.
The Elderwise Way
by Ellin Snow, Lynnwood, Washington
Yesterday, I watched a webinar coming from Third Place Books and featuring the co-authors of the book The Elderwise Way, Sandy Sabersky and my friend Ruth Neuwald Falcon. Ruth had originally joined Sandy after Sandy had written the first version of the book and then helped her in editing every chapter of it by joining her in re-thinking the entire book. During this webinar, Ruth read aloud several passages.
Over twenty years ago, Sandy created a special treatment program for folks she referred to as “fragile elders” in her home. The majority of the participants of this mode of day treatment have been diagnosed as having dementia. The Elderwise Way of being with these folks is very specifically different from most dementia treatment programs.
This is basically an adult day care program which offers a spirit-centered care approach led by carefully chosen spirit-centered care partners. These caring partners are expected to be in touch with their own deepest truth so as to assist those participating to be in touch with their own deepest truths. Sandy describes the setting as offering three specific forms of attention to the meeting space: “Attention is paid to cleanliness, simplicity, and beauty.” Since the group of participants spend quite a bit of time sitting around a table together, there are always fresh flowers in its center, a candle, and often other objects from nature such as small stones, or small branches.
Activities are experienced in what Sandy refers to as a “slow time zone” meaning that it helps participants to deal with communication, creativity and the opportunity for giving in a non-stressful, slowed-down time frame. This process is accomplished as care partners present spirit-centered care by linking their own essence to the essence of those with dementia. This is done by listening well with a sense of equality. Sandy explained that just as a person who is blind compensates for a lack of vision by a heightened sense of touch, people with loss of memory or brain power can compensate with their hearts.
This was a very good introduction to the book these two caring women have written, and I am sure that others can learn from the many descriptive examples of using The Elderwise Way in many different kinds of environments including the family homes of persons experiencing dementia. May it be so…