Monday, March 4, 2019

Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference 2019

(The opening session just filling up to begin at 8:45.)

What an experience! To be invited to one of the most prestigious Dementia/Alzheimer’s conferences in the United States, put on by Minnesota and North Dakota Alzheimer’s Association in conjunction with the MAYO Clinic of Rochester, Mn.

Approximately 1200 people attended the one day conference which included two major sessions (one opening welcome session and a closing one on current research) and three-hour long break out sessions.

The conference's tag line was "Meeting of the Minds and Changing Minds" and they did just that. Many of the sessions and panels included people diagnosed with Dementia as well as caregiver partners and experts in the field.

Not only were the sessions hopeful in face of the difficulties of the disease, but they were uplifting and promising for a better future for people living with Dementia. Some of that "better"  had to do with research studies and the progress in understanding the disease and its symptoms but much of it had to do with changes in attitude, ways of looking at the disease and the "disabilities" it brings and helping to make lives more productive and involved.

I had the honor of being one of the conference's opening keynote speakers with Dale (who is living with Dementia,) and Sandy (whose husband just died after living with Alzheimer’s Disease for three years.) Angela Lunde of the MAYO Clinic spoke as did Susan Spaulding, CEO of the MN/ND Alzheimer's Association; both may I add, eloquently in helping to set the purpose of Meeting of the Minds which was "Changing Minds."

My keynote presentation (like most of my Dementia projects) was titled: “ALZHEIMER’S: A Love Story” and it talked about Gregory and my walking the Dementia Path for 12 years while living as well as possible during that time. 

We did not “suffer” with Alzheimer’s, we lived well! Gregory was not a “victim” of Alzheimer’s, he was a HERO! There as more laughter than tears and more joy than sorrow. We did a good job of riding the unexpected twists and turns of the roller coaster called Dementia.

My break out session (attended by approximately 100 people) was titled: Dimensions of Love and Grief and Dementia.” Besides sharing some of my personal experience in dealing with Long Term Grief, Anticipatory Grief, and what I call “End Point Grief; I discussed some ways to help ease the grief as well as some new ways to think about grief and its expression.

The text of both presentations can be seen on my website:

To end this post, I might share that I felt that my message was well received by those in attendance at my sessions. As I spoke, I could see quite a few of them dabbing their eyes with tissues. For the rest of the day, many people came up to me to express their appreciation, how my comments touched them, how meaningful my sharing was, how brave I was to share so openly my experiences, etc.

I was able to give (in a nurturing way) to others and I, in turn, received: Love, Thanks, Appreciation, Gratitude, Hugs, Tears, Pats on the Back, Gratefulness, Feelings of Importance, Compliments, Kudos, Accolades and even one invitation back to the participants home for a cup of coffee and to meet his wife who is living with Dementia.

I also received many new insights to living with Dementia, the work going on in the field of Dementia, and to the current research and changes in thinking about living with and potential cures for Dementia.

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