Alzheimers Disease and other dementias slowly steal all memories and abilities that have been learned since infancy – a process of progressive, permanent amnesia. All dementias are fatal illnesses. As the brain deteriorates, the person’s ability, understanding and behaviour go through many changes. Often people with a dementia such as Alzheimers disease are seen as individuals with behaviour problems.
It is important to reframe how people with Alzheimers disease are viewed.
Firstly, they are people with an altered view of reality due to the Alzheimers disease.
Secondly, they are people whose behaviour can change, depending on how we interact with them.
In order to know how to interact with a person with dementia, it is important to understand what they are experiencing as a result of having dementia.
People with a diagnosis of dementia and their family carers have a lot of living left to do. They will need to find different ways to do things, but it is important to look for joy and hope every day. There is joy to be found in one’s friends and family, in the beauty of nature, in the enjoyment of daily events, and in shared laughter. There is pride and contentment to be found in caring for a loved one, even though they have changed and become unable to do the things they did in the past.
A person with Alzheimers disease has a constellation of inabilities and difficulties that combine to produce the unique pattern of the expression of their disease at any one point in time. Each new inability interacts with the others to produce new challenges for the person with the disease and those supporting them.
Whenever the progression of the disease changes the person’s abilities and behaviours, the person affected, and their family, need to find new ways to cope with their care and daily life events.
by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller, B.A., R.N., M.Sc.N. Alzheimer Society Cambridge, Canada
Alzheimers Wellington Community workers have been there since 1985 to provide the understanding, guidance and support needed to face the challenges and changes that come with a diagnosis of dementia. A gift in your Will helps ensure we will be there in 2045 and beyond.