In life, we all have our pace of moving, thinking and doing. To get along in the world we match ourselves to other’s paces and rhythms.
Walk with anyone, and it’s simply natural to adjust oneself by either speeding up or slowing down a bit so as to walk together. Every conversation is a volleying back and forth with thoughts put into words. A good conversation is one where two or more people share ideas without anyone over talking the other, dominating or being shut out.
Have you ever tried to learn from someone who goes too fast for you? Have you ever been bored in a lecture because the speaker goes too long or too slow? Try cooking or doing a project or traveling with folks who don’t or won’t match your pace. It takes all the fun out of the experience. Most people have a natural range of pacing that they are comfortable in and allows them to get along in work and play with many others.
The cognitive danger Andy lives with is not an inability to participate but rather an inability to keep up.
The cognitive ‘slow down’ that Andy lives with, is only that. It is not dementia, loss of understanding or confusion. Andy has thoughts, follows deeply complex ideas and comes up with creative solutions as well as fun memories and interesting stories. He just does all this at a slower pace than most people are willing to go, so it is a regular occurrence for him to be overlooked or shut down.
Being shut out from participating, for many years, takes a toll. Motivation to try at all goes down and confidence drops. I see all this first hand, because one of my jobs as his caregiver and wife is to combat this whole sorry situation and unearth people willing to slow down and have a real conversation and relationship with Andy.
They are not easy to find. I had the great benefit of spending lots of time as a child and teenager with my grandmother. She was the first person in my life to show me the benefit of slowing down so that I could know her. I have an affinity for older people because I learned how cool they are from my Nana.
Our world’s present pace misses out.