Happy Friday friends,
Today I have a very special post that I’ve been thinking about lately and I think a lot of you will enjoy it. Since the end of August, I’ve been volunteering with Hospice of the Valley and began my class about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I came into this course with no prior experience with the disease and never met anyone who’s been linked with it. So coming in with a clean slate, I had only an idea of what it’ll be like from movies or TV shows. So, when you hear the word Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may think of Allie from The Notebook or someone just forgetting a lot about their past. Well here’s a couple of things I’ve learned…
- Individuals fall back to their 5 senses, which are: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. I’ve met patients who love physical affection and it makes perfect sense because sometimes individuals who live within a residential facility, don’t get that physical connection as they once used to.
- It’s a frustrating cloud of confusion-sometimes. Quite often I’ve stumbled across patients depending on where they are ranked on the MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) and if they are pretty advanced, it’ll be a difficult process for them to think clearly and perform tasks. As result, this confusion can cause individuals to feel frustrated and depressed.
- Loved ones are more affected by the disease than you think. For my honors project within the class, I’ve been contacting caregivers (very often is the spouse) to receive their opinion on their loved one’s personality before and after the disease took affect. There has been frequent times where individuals just break down because that person they used to see isn’t the same person they see now. This was hard for me to initially process and to respond to because what can you say to someone who’s grieving over a person they used to know?
- Be present. As much as everyone is busy within their own little world and continues to worry about the future, I’ve learned from patients that it’s important to be within the now and to appreciate what you have. This is an important reminder to individuals who have a loved one that’s suffering from this disease because although this person used to be the CEO of some organization in the past and lived a fast lifestyle, they may be a completely different person now and that’s okay. Be present and go with the flow.
- Individuals with the disease just want you to understand and be patient. I’ve heard from many individuals that they just want their family to be patient with them and not demand an answer for everything. When I go in to my weekly visit, I make sure to always be patient and listen to what they have to say because quite often, they have people who get impatient and don’t take the time to sit with them.
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia is an emotional roller coaster for both parties. It’s a difficult disease to get by and quite honestly, I feel like this is worse than being diagnosed with cancer sometimes because of the fact that there’s no true treatment to reverse this degenerating disease. It’s a difficult process for anyone to endure.
As I can go on and on, I hope you get a better understanding of the disease and do your research for the different organizations that are bringing more awareness to communities. If you ever find someone who’s lost or seems confused, be a friend and help. Because the world deserves more kind people. Also, if you’re interested in volunteering with Hospice of the Valley, I highly recommend it because the greatest of all people are there and have the best of stories to share. I hope you enjoyed my post and comment below what your thoughts are about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Also, did you know Tempe, AZ is a Dementia Friendly City? Check out their Memory Cafe at Tempe Public Library, every Monday 9:30am-12:00pm.
Lots of love,