The strength of a Project that knows how to go further

Sente-Mente® is a great national project to look at the disease in a new way and to live the big challenges of life (parent and child relationship, educational approach, school education, work ...).Is the disease just ending with health and fatigue or can it be the beginning of a path of opportunities? Sente-Mente® (Mind that Feels) is a project that can reveal the opportunities that are still present despite pain, fatigue, and illness, because they do not overwhelm them.

Sente-Mente® Manifesto

Sente-mente® is recognized in a manifesto that reads

"We believe in the indissoluble presence of the vital and authentic core enclosed in each person and therefore we commit ourselves to reveal it with Curiosity, to guard it with Delicacy and to honor it with Strength.

We believe in the beauty and the possibilities of human fragility and therefore we are committed to welcoming, valorizing and transforming it.

We believe in the Friend Universe and in individual responsibility and therefore we commit ourselves to choose ideas and actions to turn on happiness, cultivate health, and make benevolence flourish.

We believe in the strength of life and energy in the electromagnetic field that originates from the encounter between people here and now and therefore we strive to keep our individual field dynamic and sparkling. "

On the first National day, in 2013 in Bologna, the manifesto was signed by more than 400 health-care operators: a huge success for a movement that was moving the first public steps despite the many years of research and training of its founder, Letizia Espanoli.

The sensory model counts today more than 80 Felicitators, those who have learned to learn the model techniques and who constantly update and collect data in the territory demonstrating everyday the effectiveness of Espanoli's intuition.

What is the Sente-Mente® Project

The Sente-Mente® Project is a new Italian model, innovative and revolutionary, which is able to unveil, in the pain of the illness, the opportunities to live through the disease (#lavitanonfinisceconladiagnosi - #lifedoesntendwithdiagnosis) and that has already found a widespread support in Italy, Switzerland and the United States.

To whom it is addressed

The Sente-Mente® model is aimed at creating more well-being of all the people who are directly or indirectly involved in this path of Life (people living with the disease, caretakers and social-health professionals, family caregivers, volunteers, family assistants but also municipal administrations, Alzheimer associations, local associations, journalists ...)

A Therapeutic Organizational Model

The innovative aspect of the Sente-Mente® model lies in the identification and enhancement of the vital essence contained in each person.

Sente-Mente® trains people and social health organizations to move from helplessness to self effectiveness, thanks to a method which is capable of creating well-being both for the person living with dementia and for all the people involved in the process of care and assistance. The model allows to boost the social and health organizations involved towards the creation of new actions of assistance and care, and to continuously improve their organizational settings and procedures.

Sente-Mente® also supports the municipal administrations through a Pilot Project that lead them to become a "Sente-mente ®" friendly comunity of the people living with dementia "

From whom it was designed

The Sente-Mente® Project was created in 2014 by Letizia Espanoli, trainer in the social-health field who has been dealing with the therapeutic triad for over 30 years: family caregivers, professional caretakers and people living with the diagnosis of dementia. Throughout Italy, there are more than 80 “Felicitatori”, who are some Sente-Mente® Facilitators trained to support people and organizations in the implementation of workshops and seminars families caregivers or people who live with the disease.

The key seven Pillars of the Sente-Mente® Model

The model builds its strength on seven pillars scientifically based

#lifedoesntendwithdiagnosis

Too often, family caregivers of people living with dementia feel abandoned with a diagnosis that leaves little room for hope. Professional caregivers sometimes experience a sense of helplessness, as they feel unprepared to face daily challenges. It is time to cast aside statements like, “There’s nothing you can do!” “He doesn’t understand anymore!” As a matter of fact, if it is true that memory and cognitive abilities decrease, the ability to perceive feelings and emotions - not only experienced by the person who lives with dementia, but also by those of the caregivers - remains intact until the end for people living dementia. Scientists proved in 2014 that life does not end with the diagnosis. People with dementia have the capacity to love, empathize and feel emotions even if they can’t express themselves in the ways we need. The Sente-Mente® Model restores an outlook of possibility – helping the caregiver view and nurture the vital core within their loved ones. This begins with new ways of thinking. We need to focus on the person living with dementia and the person’s preservation of dignity. The way we talk about a situation already creates an emotional frame : we can categorize a person as a demented elder or we can choose to talk about him/her as a person who lives with dementia. People are not their disease.

Positive psychology

The positive psychology is a branch of psychology that aims to increase the resilience of people. The main idea is that not necessarily everything must be positive, but we cand choose to train ourselves to see the positive aspect out of a difficult situation when we are facing it. According to the studies of the greatest representative of this science, Martin Seligman (Pennsylvania University), we can improve the ability to cope with the changes, also taking advantage out of the most challenging situations. So it is possible, through some specific training, to develop the ability to change the way we look at a situation we experience and our way to deal with it, feeling directly responsible for the response we can choose to give to the event that occur in our lives, enhancing resilience, proactivity and gratititude for the good in our lives. Positive psychology is an important tool to help overcome the sense of acquired helplessness, especially after receiving a diagnosis of dementia that was presented as an aseptic description of the disease , which is usually what comes up with the prospect of an increasingly gloomy future.

Heartmath

The HeartMath University shows how to create a connection with our intuitive heart intelligence. When people develop this form of intelligence, they master their minds, manage their emotions and achieve a greater capacity to create positive changes in their own lives and in that of others. Several researches have shown that using heart intelligence leads to lower blood pressure, improves the nervous system, creates a hormonal balance and facilitates brain functions. More specifically, the research conducted by the HeartMath Institute has shown that the different patterns of cardiac activity (which accompany the different emotional states) have various effects on cognitive and emotional functions, influencing the way we perceive and react to the world. Cardiac coherence is the key concept of HeartMath®: when approaching a person suffering from dementia, it is very important to have a field in a state of coherence, especially considering their sensitivity in perceiving it. We can activate a state of coherence by experiencing feelings of the heart like love, compassion, gratitude.

Unconditional Therapeutic Laughter

One of the model’s strategies is unconditional therapeutic laughter. The effect of laughter goes straight from the body to the mind.  It reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels and strengthens the immune system.  It further benefits the bodymind by improving mood, self-trust and relationships.  Unconditional laughter, along with singing, dancing and playing, is a "motor" to increase emotional intelligence.  It is a good way to develop a greater capacity for mindful action respect to instictive reaction.  It is a bridge that allows mind and heart to dialogue so as to find harmony and beauty.  It is therefore a powerful tool for health which is quite useful and simple to train our emotional part.  It also promotes teambuilding, sharing, understanding and complicity.

From the body to the mind, from the mind to the body

Once the biomedical model of body-mind separation has been overcome, modern neurosciences and scientific studies of the last few years are moving towards an ever greater integration of these two areas. PNEI (psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology) views the body and mind as one “bodymind,” in which thoughts determine the state of health or disease. Feeling helpless triggers a bio-chemical cascade of stress hormones. Continuously stimulating this “fight-or-flight” response modifies the “bodymind” physiology, harmfully effecting the cardiovascular, respiratory and immune systems. Recent studies show us the importance of the different techniques that can improve the quality of life (for example, improving the quality of our relationship, the practice of breathing techniques, a mindful contact and touch, focusing on a positive mind). Thoughts and emotions influence each other and we can choose to train ourselves to self-effectiveness and to a resilient attitude.

The contact with kindness

"When you take or pinch someone's hand, the person touched may also feel all your emotions, brutality or sweetness, feelings, and intentions. This is the wealth of touch "(Savatofsky). Another component of the model is contact and touch. Our skin is the pathway to our world and emotions. Through contact and touch, we explore our environment, communicate, and build relationships with the world. Touch goes straight to the heart! Teaching caregivers to get in “con-tact” with themselves and with people they care for with kindness and “tact.” This is the first step to restore wellness and health in both caregivers and care receivers. Contact triggers the “bodymind” system with a cascade of happiness hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins. The release of these chemicals also works to hinder the harmful and cumulative effects of cortisol – the stress hormone. In this sense “Contact and Touch” are therapeutic and must therefore be considered to all effects a right of the person and performed with competence. Training caregivers to communicate with people living with dementia through a warmly eye contact relationship, bring kindness as a practice at all levels in an organization, develop an organizational culture of welcoming. Hands have always been used for healing, but in order to create a therapeutic healing. It is necessary to create a gentle care with-tact.

Special Behaviors

Too many times we have said that people suffering from Dementia do not understand anything, that they are a problem, they are affected by behavioral disorders, they are agitated, aggressive ... But people living with dementia "feel". What if the behavioral disorders were a language? The desperate scream of people asking to be understood and not sedate? That's why new knowledge, new ideas, new visions are needed ...This the reason why behavior disorders are no longer to be seen as a symptom to be treated, but as a language and re-actions to be interpreted and listened to. The key idea of this pillar can be summarized in this statement: "Every behavior is a form of language, therefore a message!". Often the person who live with dementia, cannot express themselves verbally and explain the pain they experience. In this situation special behavior become an expression of pain and a way to communicate some discomfort. We should always keep in mind that emotions are not a disease, but they are the expression of an emotional intelligence that can turn out to be a bridge for a better understanding between caregivers and people living with dementia; and create new possibilities despite of the disease. “Welcoming, embracing and transforming their own emotions and other’s emotions” has to become the new paradigm for caregivers, and will erase the "therapeutic distances".

More resources about the Sente-mente ® Project in the State

You might be interested in further information to get at the following links

Facebook group for families and people living with dementia called

“Letizia Espanoli” You Tube Channel

Letizia Espanoli’s book “#lifedoesntendwithdiagnosis”

Letizia Espanoli ’s articles on Thrive Global - Arianna Huffington:

Email contact :

espanoli.letizia@gmail.com

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