Guest post by Dayna Thompson.
In the film Robot & Frank, the titular character, who is living with dementia, is forced to take in a “caregiving robot” his children purchase for him. He isn’t happy about it. Frank doesn’t see himself as needing this type of help. He doesn’t want to sit around and be waited on as life passes him by. So, the retired cat burglar teaches the robot new skills, in the name of supporting his own well-being.
This view of living with dementia is perhaps a new one, for people who do not have lived experience with the disease. As a society, we tend to conjure pictures of vacant expressions, blank minds, and wandering feet when we hear the word “dementia.” But the reality is that there is a lot of life to be lived after a diagnosis and learning to live well with the disease requires that one find purpose.
Connecting with others and our sense of self is vital to living well and maintaining brain health and function. Studies show that those who are connected and feel that they are contributing to the world around them tend to show slower declines and report higher life satisfaction. It is our job then, as family members, friends, and a community, to support environments where that type of purpose can be found and supported.
In 2017, Bloomington was recognized as the first Dementia Friendly area in Indiana by Dementia Friendly America. This designation indicates a commitment by individuals and organizations to improve accessibility, engagement, and support for people living with dementia and their care partners. These grassroots efforts have resulted in businesses of all kinds who have been trained to create knowledgeable and supportive environments, accessible arts events, campaigns to reduce stigma, book clubs, training programs for healthcare professionals, and so much more.
Robot & Frank is a part of a wider dementia film series in the area. The series aims to provide a broader picture of what it is like to live with dementia, how to promote well-being through prevention and care, and to offer an opportunity for intergenerational fun. To learn more about the other films in the series, visit the Dementia Friendly Bloomington website.
Following the screening of Robot & Frank, there will be an informal Q&A period with Lois Sauder, a person living with dementia who serves on the Community Dementia Alliance committee, and Dayna Thompson, educator with IU Health’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Service.
Dayna Thompson, M.S., Ed.S., LMHC, CDP is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has been with IU Health since 2006. She has been trained in Positive Approach to Care (PAC) since 2016. She currently heads up the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Service and serves as Alzheimer’s Educator. Dayna is responsible for client consultation and counseling, community and professional education, outreach, professional collaboration and consultation and service coordination and development.