Over the years as I designed and implemented various services for the dementia caregivers in Kolkata, India, and followed it up with evaluating their effectiveness, I realized, I was trying to connect caregivers with dots by looking forward and not necessarily looking backwards. So I came up with a project called Sriti Sudhay a bengali word meaning Memories Beckon. Here I use storytelling and sharing. I found Asking “What is your story? created a setting whereby we could celebrate what was left.
Over the years, I found this story telling & sharing by far the most effective and humane approach to support family caregivers experience of meaning in life amidst their chaotic world of dementia caregiving.
We all know life for family caregivers is found to be caught up in crisis every moment. And they are not themselves when they are there. They don’t know what to do. At those moments all their spiritual practices, concepts, ideas and ideals fall apart. Their devotion, their love and all the beautiful things they cherish in their life, simply don’t seem to be there or mean anything. In this scenario all they know is shock, panic, fear, anger, denial, you name any negative emotions and they are there.
What I understood interacting with caregivers in this situation over the years is, never does support that comes in form of leaflets and advice and suggestions work as effectively as allowing them to give voice to their experiences.
And, so the project Sriti Sudhay or Memories Beckon started with one to one session with caregivers followed by group sessions later.