Preserving the “Self” though the Memory Dims

Kathy Greenlee, Director of the federal Administration for Community Living– http://www.acl.gov/Index.aspx   — gave a marvelous speech last Wednesday at the  3rd World Congress on Adult Guardianship in Arlington VA. She said that “The loss of memory is not the same as the loss of self,”  that people need to be recognized for their unique selves and everyone craves the opportunity to actively engage with their world despite their disabilities. She posed this challenge: As Guardians, how do you support the “self” of the person with disabilities who you are responsible for?

Greenlee suggests that we shift from a deficit-based outlook to an asset-based outlook. She’s not talking about money. She’s talking about a person’s personal assets — their capabilities, strengths and interests. What does the person have the ability to do, or the ability to understand? How can a Guardian or a supportive decision-making coach or power of attorney assist them to do something, or assist them to make a decision?

Greenlee challenges each of us to identify and provide the supports that a person needs to maintain their sense of self and to thrive within the community. We all benefit and our communal life is enriched when we reach out and accept people for what they can do, rather than seeing only what they can’t do.

Call us to discuss strategies for supported decision-making when coping with aging or disability … 732-382-6070