The tendency is to focus in on what Alzheimer's patients can't do. This focus brings on feelings of hopelessness.
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Let me make this simple - Alzheimer's and dementia patients are capable of
More Than We Can Imagine
Learn More - How to help someone with Alzheimer's disease
When you ask someone, What is Alzheimer's, they will usually use the word memory. They assume that a person living with dementia can't remember. They honestly believe they can't remember anything.
This is far from the truth.
Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading - This is a Free Service - Join Now
It is true that Alzheimer's and dementia patients will soon forget the right now, and they will be unable, for the most part, to remember any new information. This does not mean they will forget everything even as the disease progresses.
Alzheimer's patients usually forget how to brush their teeth, and the importance of taking a shower. In fact, the majority of Alzheimer's patients don't want to take a shower they need guidance.
They resist taking a shower for along list of reasons. One of the obscure reasons is because they don't like water. Water is invisible to many dementia patients.
Learn More - Dementia Care Always meet meanness with kindness
But, the most simple reason they won't take a shower is because it is a task that for them is very confusing. In order to take a shower there is a long list of things you must do before you are actually taking the shower. Not the least of this long list is getting the water on at the correct temperature.
The tendency is to focus in on what Alzheimer's patients can't do.
This focus brings on feelings of hopelessness
In addition, the general public assumes that the situation for Alzheimer's and dementia is hopeless.
Chris Nadeau tells me that Alzheimer's caregivers are often stunned at the changes dementia patients undergo when they attend adult day care (social day care) three or more times each week.
These patients become more response, happier, and easier to deal with. They become more aware of their surroundings and more engaged in life.
"There is life after diagnosis and there is a life worth living that can be rich and rewarding," Nadeau said. "(The arts) really invigorates folks in a way that respects and honors the person for their uniqueness. It creates a level of cohesion and empowerment and energy that you just can't explain."
A good example of More There.
Marilyn Raichle is another great example. She wrote,
The conversations often begin with ‘she’s gone’, or ‘she’s an empty shell now’, or ‘how sad’. It is sad of course. But here’s the point Raichle is eager to make: Her mother Jean is still here.
"So many people talk about their family members with Alzheimer’s and dementia in the past tense."
Look for yourself.
In my own case, my mother continually proved to me that there is More There even when she was a late stage of Alzheimer's.
If you look at this video,
you will be surprised. If you don't take the time to watch until the very end, the most important part, you will miss the point. Look at her face, she is a very advance stage of dementia. How does she look?
Gone or More There?
In the video, my mother starts coloring without any assistance. She picks up two color coordinated pencils. When I asked her to sign her name she does, but also expresses her emotion - I'm nervous she says. Listen to the sound of her voice. Yes, persons living with dementia are full of emotion even if they rarely express emotion.
My mother died and went to Heaven two months later. She died from complications caused by Alzheimer's. Nothing else.
Remarkably, she scored 14 on the MMSE three years earlier.
Let me make this simple.
Alzheimer's patients can do more than we can imagine.
However, if you sit them down in front of the TV day after day, I can assure you - they will soon become very dull, less there, and the situation will appear to be hopeless.
On the other hand, if you keep them reading, singing, painting, exercising and active in the world (like social day care or on your own) they will do more as a result of those kinds of experiences.
I hope you will consider sharing this article via email and social media. Let's destroy the myths, educate the public, and end the stigma attached to dementia.
The public believes the situation is hopeless because their is no known effective treatment or cure. This obscures the truth.
Alzheimer's patients are still alive, and most will continue to live, for many years after diagnosis (7-8 Years or longer).
If you help them, guide them, I can assure you
they will fill your heart with Joy,
and teach you a very important lesson
There is more to life than we can sometimes Imagine.
Related Articles in the Alzheimer's Reading Room
How the Discovery of Alzheimer's World Changed My Life
Are Alzheimer's Caregivers the Forgotten?
Rewiring My Brain and Stepping into Alzheimer's World
Alzheimer's Care and Communication
Coping with Alzheimer's
The Alzheimer's Reading Room
Did you know the Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009? The website is designed to help caregivers deal with the problems they face each day.
Need Help? How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia