Welcome to the third of my seven ‘mini’ blogs for UK Dementia Awareness Week 2013. They are all themed around talking about dementia, exploring different aspects of conversation from the point of view of people who are living with dementia, carers and families.
Day 3 – Prepare to be surprised
Ask most people what they think living with dementia would be like, and they assume it’s a life of inability and dependence. Those of us who know otherwise just want to scream, “People with dementia can still do things!”
More importantly, people with dementia still WANT to do things. Stepping in and doing everything for them, without stopping to consider, asking or trying to see what they can do themselves removes their independence, and is actually likely to make their deterioration with dementia more rapid.
An example of this is my dad in the later stages of his dementia. To a casual observer he was incapable of doing anything. Most days he needed to be helped to eat, but some days he could, when encouraged and not rushed, pick up the spoon and feed himself. You might think, what’s the point? Just do it for him. But by doing it himself he proved that not only did he have the ability and dexterity, but most importantly of all, he had the desire to fuel his body to keep going.
So next time you are with someone who has dementia, give them the opportunity to surprise you. Allow them to experience achievement, and when you talk to them, let them know the joy of being praised.
Next post on 22 May 2013.