The Three Pillars of Presence Care
Presence Care programs invite care partners to cultivate a mindfulness practice that is especially geared toward the dementia care exchange. Participants are encouraged to incorporate this into their days, understanding how everything that happens offers an invitation to practice, including the challenging, more painful moments in our lives. Mindful presence, or, the ability to be aware of the present moment, with curiosity and compassion, on purpose and without judgment, has been shown to be an effective strategy to meet these painful experiences. At the same time, sustained practice also allows us to notice and benefit from the opportunities for enjoyment and pleasure we so frequently miss, especially during challenging times. Mindfulness practice does not prevent suffering, rather, it enhances our ability to stay present with it and return to a calm baseline sooner. In other words, mindfulness practice strengthens our resilience: our ability to bounce back after difficulty. We have found that sustained calm mindful presence on the part of the care partner, in turn, greatly benefits the person with dementia.
Our programs offer an integrative approach that combines an understanding of the biological underpinnings of dementia with mindful self-awareness, in order to meet the emotional, spiritual and physical challenges care partners face. Presence Care programs encourage dementia care partners to explore the benefits of mindful awareness while supporting their family member or friend who is experiencing dementia. We integrate evidence-based neuroscience with a practical and experiential way of guiding the day-to-day interactions between the person living with dementia and their care partner. We explore ways of understanding, preventing, and responding wisely to behaviors that may arise as part of a dementia illness. The biological framework provides the relevant knowledge needed to better understand dementia-related changes, and more confidently advocate, care, and plan for the future. In partnership with direct experience and sustained mindfulness practice, this integrative approach creates a holistic toolkit that guides self-care and adaptive day-to-day strategies for interactions between care partners, leading to a profound and more consistent sense of attunement between care partners across the stages of dementia.
Participating in Presence Care programs is an invitation to experience the benefits of being a part of a dedicated mindfulness practice community, or sangha. Care partners gain a sense of camaraderie in the shared understanding of a similar life circumstance. They also find the encouragement and inspiration needed to cultivate and deepen their own practice as their partner’s decline continues, and throughout their own lifespan. Presence Care programs serve to support an ever-expanding international mindfulness-based dementia care practice community.