Beyond loss: An essay about presence and sparkling moments based on observations from life coexisting with a person living with dementia

Janne Brammer Damsgaard*, Jette Lauritzen, Charlotte Delmar, Monica Evelyn Kvande

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This is an essay based on a story with observations, about present and sparkling moments from everyday life coexisting with a mother living with dementia. The story is used to begin philosophical underpinnings reflecting on ‘how it could be otherwise’. Dementia deploys brutal existential experiences such as cognitive
deterioration, decline in mental functioning and often hurtful social judgements. The person living with dementia goes through transformation and changes of self. Cognitive decline progressively disrupts the foundations upon which social connectedness is built, often creating a profound sense of insecurity. The challenge for carers and healthcare professionals is therefore to find ways of clarifying a concept of agency. It will be worthwhile developing the ability of attuning into ‘what is there’ arising from every corner of the care situation. Understanding and practicing this can strengthen existence and the experience of connectedness and meaning, empowering the person with dementia. It is important to find ways, relational moves, in which carers and healthcare professionals can embed the creativity appearing in mundane everyday situations filled with surplus of meaning, sharing mental landscapes (and embodied relational understanding) with the person living with dementia – seizing and sharing aesthetic moments (verbal and nonverbal) being present together. We argue that carers and healthcare professionals may find this
understanding of care useful. This implies looking into a phenomenological‐ hermeneutic perspective developing competences as well as practical wisdom understanding and being aware of the creative and innovative possibilities (often preverbal and unnoticed small things) in everyday life of what we, inspired by psychoanalyst Daniel Stern, call sparkling moments of meeting.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12425
JournalNursing Philosophy
Volume25
Issue1
Number of pages8
ISSN1466-7681
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • creativity
  • dementia
  • moment
  • presence
  • self
  • surplus of meaning

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