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Building Up to Letting Go: Provoking loving conversations between care partners

Just as Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies nudges us out of creative dilemmas, so too can care partners use a bit of context flipping inspiration from time to time. The idea is to design a deck of cards that harvests care partners' collective wisdom.

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Each suite can reflecta paradox of care partnering. For instance, "Inviting Grief" or"Discovering the Familiar". These organizing concepts can unleash thecreative imaginations of care partners or provide them with the outside instigationnecessary to have emotionally difficult conversations about loss, death,memory, and the unknown. At the same time, the cards can offer humorousinterludes, fun activities, or other bits of practical wisdom that let caregivers know they are not the only ones who have ever faced the complexchallenges of taking care of elders. Ideally, the cards could unleash thesocial inventiveness of both partners, build their resilience in the face ofdecline and introduce them to seriously fun new strategies for creativelyovercoming barriers. By building the capacity of both partners to respond toadversity ~ together ~ we would be enhancing the overall quality of life ofeveryone involved in the process of aging. 

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

The content could easily be exported into a mobile app and be pushed to users on a regular basis. By creating a mechanism for caregivers to submit their own wisdom as the project grows, that content can be fed back out into the community. As a community project, it builds up its own audience as people are invited to contribute. As an expression of the artistic talents and wisdom of care partners, it could easily find its way into various markets from museum gift shops to online retailers.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

The primary partner the project can attract is caregivers themselves. By designing a process that allows them to shape the content and art on each card, they will be be involved in a participatory process that in and of itself may be as valuable as the output. By creating a context for asynchronous dialogue among caregivers we would be building their awareness that others are experiencing similar challenges.

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

We have already tested the card idea extensively with caregivers and care receivers to great response. We have an early prototype of the deck in progress that continues to grow and evolve as additional partners come on board. One key thing we have learned is that the reverse side of the cards need to be aesthetically appealing and meaningful. To address that, we've been working with care receivers (many of whom have neuro-cognitive conditions) to produce artwork that can also inspire additional conversations between partners.

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Here are a few examples of the artwork featured on the reverse sides of the cards: http://www.art-in-transition.com/gallery.html + http://www.theartofalzheimers.net/gallery/

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