GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 31

it's never 2 late

Living life to the fullest

How my perspective on dementia changed in one
fun weekend
BY JACK YORK

W

ho likes to admit they're wrong, especially when they think they have some
semblance of knowledge about a topic?
But being challenged on preconceived notions has
its benefits, when the lessons learned outweigh
the angst of being way off base. Yes, I was wrong-and my own 59-year-old perceptions were turned
around by a couple of great gallivanting guys.
This 180 in my perception came to pass last
month when I was introduced to two gentlemen,
Brian LeBlanc, a 58-year-old Floridian, and Mike
Belleville, 57, from Massachusetts, who hung out
with me and some friends in Denver. It was four
days of fun and frivolousness--we were eating
out, eating in (Mike is as good a cook as anyone
I've ever known!), having wine, whiskey and beer
tastings, playing croquet, climbing Colorado's
red rocks, hanging at Estes Park, eating Rocky
Mountain oysters, listening to jazz at the Brown
Palace Hotel in Denver, etc.--simply a cool long
weekend with new friends. Oh, I forgot to tell you,
these guys are both living with dementia!
This whole journey, or should I say adventure,
started a year ago when I heard Brian (and my
buddy Robert Bowles) speak at the Dementia
Action Alliance conference in Atlanta. Karen Love,
ED, of the DAA and a long-term friend of mine,
fervently believes the true experts of dementia

31 GRAND

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2018

are those individuals and families living with
symptoms and that their voices are the ones that
should be heard. I think of myself as somewhat of
an out-of-the-box thinker when it comes to aging
and senior living, but Brian was seemingly talking
straight to me when he spoke about the demeaning way people approach him (or ignore him)
when they learn he has dementia. I was that guy,

"...that night it hit me
that millions of people
out there like me,
thinking of dementia
in the most negatively
stereotyped way..."
unintentionally condescending, probably exuding pity, doing everything but making him feel
simply like a person dealing with a disease. So
then and there, that same night I heard him speak,
I consciously went out of my way to treat him like
anyone else I know. I spoke to him that night with

Brian LeBlanc and
Mike Belleville

Continued on next page


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GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

Contents
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 1
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 2
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 3
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