“По-близо до нас, част от нашия свят” by the AUBG Professor Felix Diaz for Dementia Caregivers in Bulgaria

July 11, 2023 Yenlik O'Neill
“По-близо до нас, част от нашия свят” by the AUBG Professor Felix Diaz for Dementia Caregivers in Bulgaria

Titled “По-близо до нас, част от нашия свят” (English: “Closer to us, part of our world”), the book offers technical support, tips, suggestions, and a structured approach to caregivers seeking to enhance the quality of care provided to individuals with dementia. Developed through a collaboration between multiple parties, this academic resource aims to improve the lives of both patients and caregivers, bringing hope and understanding to a condition often overlooked in society.

The Team Behind the Book

  • Written by the Psychology Professor at AUBG Felix Diaz
  • Translated by Presiana Tsvetkova (’23)
  • Translation revised by the Modern Languages and Cultures Professor at AUBG Senem Konedareva
  • Layout and illustrations by Alis Sandalova (’24)
  • Printing supervised by the Associate Director of Communications at AUBG Martin Georgiev (’16)

The Journey from Workshops to a Book

As the author of the book, Professor Felix Diaz, shared, the genesis of this book traces back to 2018 -the year he came to AUBG to teach and develop the newly emerging Psychology major. Ever since then, he has been on the lookout for potential partnerships with organizations working in the field.

 “The focus on dementia derives from the simple fact that I found a very constructive response in the Alzheimer Bulgaria Association to start working together,” Professor Diaz said. “OSUN brought money for an “Engaged Research” project where we would be doing workshops together; I was then lucky to count on the support of smart and efficient students, like Rumyana Penzova and Presiana Tsvetkova, to interpret and translate for me. Yordanka Trenovska, from the Dean of Students Office, promoted our alliance with the Social Services of the Blagoevgrad municipality to extend our workshops to them, and they responded enthusiastically and constructively.”

The Content and Structure

With a total of approximately 175 pages, the book covers a range of essential topics divided into six main sections. It begins with an introduction, followed by chapters on understanding dementia, the current landscape of dementia care in Bulgaria, person-centered care, communication strategies, and intervention techniques involving reminiscence, storytelling, and orientation to reality. The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography, providing additional resources for caregivers seeking to expand their knowledge.

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A Cultural and Linguistic Resource

While the original draft was in English, the decision to publish the book in Bulgarian was paramount to ensure its relevance and practicality for the local audience. By incorporating insights from Spanish sources and considering the possibility of developing a similar guidebook for the Spanish-speaking dementia community, the author highlights the importance of tailoring resources to different cultural and linguistic audiences. As the author highlighted, each audience requires a unique approach, considering the specific cultural and discursive practices that shape caregiving experiences.

Impacting Lives and Inspiring Change

For the author, the most significant takeaway from this project has been the positive response received from individuals who recognize the book’s relevance and necessity. While the impact on the beneficiaries may be difficult to measure, the knowledge that positive change is occurring reaffirms the importance of this endeavor.

“I can see real change happening, widely across time and space, whenever forgotten people are taken seriously and reminded that they are important. This awareness opens up possibilities.”

Availability and Future Events

For those seeking the guidebook, the digital version of it will be accessible through the Panitza Library and the website of the Alzheimer Bulgaria Association, as well as other open-access platforms. Additionally, physical copies will be distributed to libraries and collaborating organizations. The author plans to organize several events, including public presentations in Blagoevgrad and Sofia, to showcase the book and raise awareness about dementia care in Bulgaria. The upcoming Fall semester will witness a special presentation at AUBG, demonstrating the impact of this collaborative project. 

A Step Forward: Building Collaboration and Transforming Lives

According to the author, this guidebook is a step toward future collaborations, special care methodology development, and the practical applications of such techniques.

“The process integrates the three academic roles of research (assembling knowledge for innovative practice), teaching (training students and professionals in the fields of dementia, disability and social intervention) and social projection (provoking a positive impact in the world of life beyond the University). I hope that the three strains will be advanced by using the book. The next step is to develop course content, research and intervention projects that feed from this experience and apply the contents of the book. The value of the book depends on its usability.”