More than 20 years ago, a gentle old lady in her early 60s said her final goodbye to her loving children and seemingly oblivious but teary-eyed grandchildren. They were at the end of their tether because few months past, her condition had gone from bad to worse, and this is her story.
In the early stages of her disease, she would have to be constantly reminded of her medication because she also had high blood pressure. The once soft-spoken woman would snap rhyming, “Kalendaryo! Eksakto!” which meant “calendar” and “exact” respectively in English from her highest tones to hoarse whispers and this scared her relatives because on top of that, she would call out names of loved ones who passed a long time ago. Not being familiar with dementia, they believed she was calling them because she could see their ghosts! From that moment on, one of her daughters, unmarried and with a regular job at a shoe store, decided she would quit and attend to her every need – from eating to bathing – because she no longer remembered how to do them for herself.
National Health Services (NHK) from the UK explains that dementia is not only about memory loss but also life changing effects on the patient’s behavior, speech, feelings, and thoughts. Although there is no cure known at present, it is believed that with early detection, the symptoms can be slowed down. In comparison to the lady with once shining gray eyes and happy countenance in the narrative, those who are afflicted with the same degenerative illness may get the best of their circumstances and thrive because of available updated information. For someone who would be directly affected if a loved one has dementia, here are few NHK suggestions on how to inspire and encourage them:
In your every attempt to give them your support and attention, never forget that they still want to feel useful. Always involve them in everyday activities like preparing for their meals, eating, and engaging in their hobbies (gardening and caring for pets are examples) – and also make sure that they are in a safe environment. Moreover, the use of pictures to show where things can be located makes it easy for them to still be independent. Being sensitive to their needs by inquiring how you can help them while bathing allows the patients to maintain their self-esteem. Last but not the least, as a carer – aptly named for someone who is deeply devoted to the well-being of another, bear in mind that you cannot give what you do not have – so you, yourself, have to be healthy and positive to inspire someone else into being.
Not being self-sufficient may take away the joy one has in old age. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Do not, ever, underestimate the power of love and resilience. Try it today.
About dementia. (2015, July 09). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/about/
Looking after someone with dementia. (2015, July 09). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/carers/?tabname=about-dementia
Personal hygiene and washing: advice for carers. (2018, February 2). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support/hygiene-and-washing/