4 things you can learn from dementia patients
If you know dementia patients, like someone living with any type of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or Lewy body dementia, you know that these conditions bring many challenges. Symptoms such as memory loss, disorientation, word-finding difficulty, behavioral and psychological symptoms, and general confusion are hard. Both for the patient and their loved ones and caregivers. However, despite the difficulty that this condition brings, they also remind us of important truths that we often forget. These reminders can serve as gifts to all of us as they help enrich our lives.
Below are 4 things you can learn from dementia patients:
1. Actions are more powerful than words
If you’re trying to help someone perform their activities of daily living, such as brushing their teeth, you might be more successful if you speak less but demonstrate to yourself how to brush your teeth. This can serve as a model for your loved one to follow by reminding them what steps to take to accomplish the task.
In life, what we do, carries more weight than what we say. If our words and deeds don’t match, our actions will outweigh our words and will communicate more loudly than what we say, just as they do for those living with dementia.
2. Proper physical touch is helpful
When caring for someone with dementia, remember that they might benefit from physical touch unrelated to trying to do something for them. For instance, hold their hand or hug them. Don’t let everything be about getting the task at hand completed.
Increased amounts of proper physical touch from others communicate that we are loved, cared for, and treasured by those around us. The benefits of the human touch don’t just apply to those with dementia, but to all of us.
3. Music is effective
The memories and nostalgia can quickly flow upon hearing a favorite song from the past. Music can serve as a great distraction too, allowing you to more easily help get them to do simple tasks, like getting dressed in the morning. Music can also cause a withdrawn person to perk up and tap their foot to the rhythm.
The beauty of music can stir us to dance, cry, love, doubt, and believe, and sometimes, hearing our feelings expressed in a song can begin a measure of healing in us when life is rough.
4. Live in the moment
Because of memory impairment in dementia patients, your loved one might not recall the names of family members, events, or persons. Both short-term memories and long-term memories become impaired in dementia. There are times when we need to process events or issues to move forward in living healthily, and planning is essential. However, we should guard against missing the gift of awakening this morning and living today.