A Truly Remarkable Conference

July 6, 2017

Normally my blogs go way over the standard word limit. I can get too long winded. For this snippet I want to be short and sweet to convey the power of the Dementia Action Alliance Conference last week in Atlanta. I have no idea how to guess how many conferences I have gone to since we started iN2L over 18 years ago. It must be at least 500. We all know the drill – the speaking process, the vendor booths, the keynote sessions, the big dinners, the customer meetings you attempt to set up as a vendor. And all the while trying to keep track of your emails back home. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

But last week, at the DAA conference, I was blown away by the different vibe of this experience – the power of having people living with dementia interspersed throughout the conference. They were in the vendor area showing off their work, they were speaking, they were at the events, they were having beers in the bar. They were normal! It was fascinating from a global context and from my personal perspective.

In the past when I’ve met people with dementia I have had an almost paternalistic, “I feel sorry for you” underlying message. Listening to Brian LeBlanc, Robert Bowles and Brian Kursonis, the Three Amigos speak, they opened my eyes as how they want and deserve to be treated. I can’t wait to go meet them in their hometowns and go have a beer. It was wild – it sucks that they have the disease but they aren’t letting that define their narrative. In the picture you can see my buddies on stage doing Improv with Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock – tell me that’s not showing courage! For a more “professional” perspective, read what our good friend Juliet Holt from Brookdale wrote.

So, Karen and Jackie, thanks for having the courage to do a conference differently. For shining a light on a stigma that so many of us carry. It was awesome! If you want to learn more about DAA, check out their website.

Sorry I’m short, but I want to go have a beer with Brian.