What Is Connection?
As defined by Brene Brown, “Connection is that energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Connectivity is something every person craves, even after their mind or body has begun to deteriorate. Certain studies have found isolation and lack of social interaction can create a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s. However, these same studies have also found engagement and human connection to have vast potential for lessening the effects of cognitive and emotional decline.
While leading a recent discussion in a cognitive class, one of our Town Center Day Club’s engagement specialists, Delana, was given a clear reminder of the importance of human connection. Delana encourages discussion amongst club members during her cognitive classes that are centered around wise sayings or proverbs. Recently, the conversation about forgiveness took a focal point as they reflected upon what one African proverb meant to them:
“If you offend, ask for a pardon; if offended, forgive.”
After some contemplation, each member then had the opportunity to dive deeper into the words of this proverb, applying it to situations within their own lives and sharing what they felt it meant to both give and receive forgiveness. While hearing each member’s story, Delana witnessed a significant moment in which every member became connected through shared experiences and a desire to learn more about one another’s perspectives:
It was fascinating how each member had a totally different understanding of the proverb, including when they believe forgiveness is not appropriate.
One member shared an experience that deeply tested her ability to forgive someone whom she loved. The other members asked her questions and were sincerely empathetic. It was a cathartic experience for our member, who found a connection through opening her heart and sharing a profoundly personal experience.
Our dear member was clearly drained by the efforts she made to verbalize her feelings, but she had a smile and a radiance that beamed from her face. I hugged her while meditating on the fact that Oakwood Creative Care is a unique, wonderful place where real connection happens.
We need to remember that the deep-rooted, ever-present desire for connection never fades even after a diagnosis has been given. Every person craves connectivity, and we all want to be seen, heard, and appreciated. So take the time to connect with your loved ones by listening to their stories, asking deeper questions, and taking a moment to reflect upon their perspective with patience, understanding, and an open heart.
Oakwood Creative Care’s Day Clubs allow aging loved ones to remain engaged in a life full of purpose and meaning, without moving out of their family home. Click the button below to learn more about how Oakwood treats the mind, body, and spirit through cognitive engagement and various other programs and therapies.