Dementia is difficult for everyone involved. It steals memories and a sense of time from those who suffer with it. For friends and families, it creates deep uncertainty about how to spend meaningful time with their loved ones and how to create joy. Even if you’re aware of the best dementia care planning strategies
, it can still take a toll. As memories fade, it can be easy to assume that nothing matters anymore, and that creating shared moments is an exercise in futility. However, this isn’t true. New research is showing that dementia patients do have a lingering sense of joy after friends and family visits. In the early stages of the disease they want to actively participate in activities and be with loved ones. Here are the details on the exciting new findings.
A recent article from Judith Graham at Kaiser Health News
stated, “people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia retain a sense of self and have a positive quality of life, overall, until the illness’s final stages.”
Graham also mentioned that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients appreciate relationships, saying “they’re energized by meaningful activities and value opportunities to express themselves. And they enjoy feeling at home in their surroundings.”
That is hopeful information. It sheds light on the fact that time with loved ones with dementia is time well spent. Visits do matter. Family activities can create lasting joy and comfort.
Dr. Peter Rabins is a psychiatrist who also co-authored the book, “The 36-Hour Day,” a guide for Alzheimer patients’ families
. He explains that even though dementia may steal the ability to recall details in life, it doesn’t steal away the essence of the person or their ability to enjoy life.
“I’ve seen that you can be a wonderful grandparent and not remember the name of the grandchild you adore. You can be with people you love and enjoy them, even if you’re not following the whole conversation.”
Dementia patients themselves echoed this. The 2012 World Report Summary
of the Alzheimer’s Disease International Organization
included compelling quotes from dementia sufferers, who spoke about the stigma of the disease and how they feel around other people:
“Upon diagnosis people think that you have lost your intelligence and you no longer have any of the knowledge you have attained over the years. People no longer ask your advice on anything. They talk to the person you are with and not to you.
People can over protect you which robs you of your independence much quicker. It should be a gradual process that is ongoing and care should be adjusted to the changes. People avoid conversations once you start showing you are having a word or thought retrieval problem.
Recognition that someone with dementia is still a human being and should be treated with dignity and respect and included in everyday activities wherever possible when desired.
I am still a person with feelings and although I have this diagnosis I am still a human being that just needs a little more attention but not to be condemned to a nursing home.”
The ongoing research into Alzheimer’s disease and dementia provides an important window of understanding into what dementia patients want and need. When it comes to human interaction, personality changes caused by dementia may arise, but dementia care needs remain the same
. Those who suffer from dementia want what we all want - someone who loves us, cares for us, and wants to spend time with us.