New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment

Alzheimercafe1

 

For a long time, Antonella has, with great difficulty, been assisting her aunt who has Alzheimer’s.  The ideal of fraternity however urges her to seek new solutions in order to reach out to the "least" in her town. She rediscovers, together with the patients, the beauty of life even in the midst of difficulties.




From San Severo (FG) - Italy

My name is Antonella, and I have chosen, for some years now, to live the ideal of Fraternity in my everyday life.

This choice led me to become a "Caregiver" to my aunt who has Alzheimer’s disease. For the past four years I help each day with her cooking and cleaning as well as keeping her company.

Being near her, I live with her the pain of the slow and progressive deterioration of her identity.I have gained her trust and, in the moments of lucidity, she asks me to understand all she is losing. When I experience her pain personally, I feel the desert, the loneliness, the fears, the inhibitions  and the emptiness (of relationship and love…) in the institutions…..

I understand the difficulties of every day - what it means to truly give your life for others. It was in one of these ‘break throughs’ in these difficult moments that I had an idea.

I realized in fact that it is possible to face together, in various ways, the situation in which the patients and their families live. I talked to the geriatrician who is treating my aunt, and from this consultation of doctor/patient/family came the desire to create an association that could respond to a situation that affects many people.

We called it "New Humanity - House of dreams." In fact we need to dream but if you dream alone it is likely that the dream remains only a dream, but if  you dream with a lot of others, then it becomes reality. From this first meeting, where heart and science came together, we discovered that we can offer these patients acceptance, listening, and the possibility of self-help.

In the beginning, there were only two of us: the doctor and myself. Then old school friends were contacted, some of whom adhere to this initiative and with the help of a business consultant we legally constituted an association.
Without wasting time, we decided to start a course of training. This was approved and we inaugurated our association with a course of information, for volunteers and family members, entitled: "Alzheimer’s and other Dementias." There followed seven sessions, involving about thirty people, with doctors, psychologists and hospital volunteers giving their contribution free of charge.

Many times I feel the desire to share this experience with friends in my city who, like me live for this Ideal and try to improve the city from many points of view. They encourage me and then I feel that the challenge is lighter.
The wonder of this journey is to realise how ordinary life, with all its burdens, can be transformed and become extraordinary with results that we couldn’t have imagined.

Thanks to this course, and the new relationships established all of us participants understood, once again, the importance of dedicating ourselves to the "least" in our city. The least for us are our own Alzheimer patients, to whom we try to offer something more than just assistance.

I decided to take my car and go with my 89 year old aunt, who hadn’t left the house for a long time, to a coffee shop (owned by a friend of mine) to meet another  90 year old just to have a  hot chocolate or a juice together. This was the beginning of the "Alzheimer Café".
That first time, my two friends were happy and incredulous; Now they are ready and eagerly looking forward to these outings.  Slowly, other patients became involved and now there are 15 who look forward to these appointments.

Sabina hadn’t put her foot out of the house for 3 years. Carmela would refuse saying “I have no shoes”. I reassured her she could come in her slippers as we were going by car. Giovanna hadn’t taken her coat out of the wardrobe for a year.   Then an elderly couple joined us and we all meet up twice a week…..

The news of this initiative spread. The bishop attended the celebration on the first anniversary of our association. The town councillor for Social Services became interested and now each week they send a car and a driver to help us.

On Women’s Day, March 8th, this year we delivered bunches of mimosa to all the women (a custom in Italy) to give them joy and to witness that the dignity of the person is not diminished by illness.

We also felt the importance of supporting the relatives and carers and we initiated yoga sessions for them as a means of relaxation and diversion. Today there are 50 of us – patients and volunteers who live “this life” together.

We feel that this light of love towards our fellow citizens helps us to grow into new people who can see the beauty of life even through daily difficulties.

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