I know the author, Donna Newman-Bluestein, through the dance and movement world in Boston, MA and was excited to have a chance to read and learn from her new training manual. Through her Dance For Connection work Donna brings joy, vitality and a sense of interconnectedness to people with dementia through playful, expressive movement and dance via direct programming and training caregivers.
This manual sets out to change the culture of care surrounding people with dementia within nursing home care by using mindfulness, movement and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions. This manual strives to support caregivers, to help them to awaken their mindful selves, to guide them to trust their intuitions, and to enable them to go forth and shine. Embodied learning is mindfulness in-action and it empowers you to be authentically you so that you can see that every interaction with a person with dementia is an opportunity to build a relationship.
The chapters are carefully laid out and are broken down into easy to follow sections. One page, titled “If You Do Nothing Else…(pg. 77) that I found immensely helpful is a list of go-to strategies to try before approaching a person with dementia. This is a list of lifelines for the caregiver, because we all know “you have to put your air-mask on first before you can help anyone else…” In other words, this is a list of mindful mini’s to increase confidence, joy, and vitality so that caregivers can be at their best, fully aware, present and with self-control.
I highly recommend this work and trainings by Donna Newman-Bluestein. An embodied learning approach can be used caregivers, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, anyone who works with patients with dementia and really any specialty group. This approach will make you curious, compassionate and above all authentic, vibrant and empowered to be the best you and the best caregiver. I love this beautiful, compassionate life line!