Friday, 19 October 2012

"Living and Celebrating Life Through Leisure" Research and By Us For Us Guide

At the Activity Professionals of Ontario (APO) 2012 Annual Convention in London (October 17-19), members of the Living Life Through Leisure (L3) team, Jessica Luh Kim from MAREP and Karen Megson-Dowling from Sunnybrook Hospital, shared with attendees the research that the team has been engaged in since 2008/2009. 

The L3 team is composed of a group of diverse stakeholders including persons living with dementia, family partners in care, professionals working in the dementia care or recreation field, and researchers, to critically examine how we understand leisure within the dementia context and to create an alternative understanding that would be rooted in the perspectives of persons living with dementia (the "real" experts).

Attendees, mainly Activation and Recreation Professionals working in the community (e.g., day programs, hospitals, retirement homes) and long-term care sector, learned that for many people living with dementia, leisure was a space to experience life despite a diagnosis of dementia.  In fact, people with dementia prefer professionals to stop focusing on the illness and/or disability, but instead support them in living and celebrating life to the fullest through leisure. 

Through leisure, persons with dementia found opportunities to:
  • be me
  • be with
  • seek freedom
  • find balance
  • make a difference
  • grow and develop
  • and have fun!
In a recent presentation by Dr. Allen Power, M.D. (inset) at the Allies in Aging Conference (October 18th, 2012) in Kitchener, Ontario, Dr. Power, an Eden Alternative Educator and the author of "Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care", discussed how these 7 leisure experiences were very similar to The Eden Alternative's seven Domains of Well-Being which include:
  • identity
  • growth
  • autonomy
  • security
  • connectedness
  • meaning
  • joy
Attendees at both conferences, APO and Allies in Aging, were challenged to move away from the biomedical approach to dementia and to shift towards a new culture of care where meaningful experiences and well-being are at the forefront of care.

For more information about the By Us For Us Guide - "Living and Celebrating Life Through Leisure", please visit the MAREP website at (under educational tools).

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