There are many definitions of threshold that are worth discussing before we jump to the meat of how it relates to dementia training.
A threshold describes the entrance or start of something. An example of a threshold is the doorway of a house or the transition from high school to college.
Merriam-Webster describes threshold as the point or level at which something begins or changes.
The most challenging mountain to cross is often the threshold.
I've been talking about Dementia Live®, AGE-u-cate® Training Institute's dementia simulation and awareness experience and training program in my previous blogs. Now I want to zero in on the threshold moment and why it is so often that incredible transformational moment of change for participants.
Participants might be family members, professional care partners, or anyone who serves the aging population. Most people who go through Dementia Live® have in some way been touched by someone living with dementia.
The Experience allows them to briefly but safely step in someone else's shoes - and inside walk, if you will, to the challenges of living day to day with cognitive impairment and sensory changes.
The threshold moment may happen just a few minutes into the Experience when a participant is trying their best to tie shoes while the brain is confused by sounds, eyesight is impaired, and sense of touch is altered.
Or, the threshold moment may come during the Empowerment Session, when headphones, eyewear, and gloves are removed. The participants try to make sense of just how difficult it was to live in a world of cognitive confusion. Those few minutes may have seemed like hours.
Whenever the participant experiences the threshold moment, it is a time of pause - the "Aha" moment went reality hits home.
The threshold moment is when the learning begins!
For dementia training to work effectively in changing attitudes and actions, it needs the threshold moment, where our empathy, understanding, and compassion dig deep.
We have low retention for classroom learning, but when we experience and feel something, we won't forget it.
The threshold moment might be so powerful that it brings a family member to realize that their loved one needs the care of professionals, whether at home or in a senior living community. While the aha moment may be emotional and extremely difficult, moving over the threshold to make essential decisions in their care is invaluable.
For a professional care partner, the threshold may be that breakthrough moment of realizing that simple communication changes and the use of calming music and touch with an agitated resident or client will change their relationship.
Whatever the threshold moment is, almost everyone experiences it when going through the program. And they don't forget it because it's a moment of change and growth.