Dementia_ Shifting from worry to compassion

By difficult the stigma round dementia, we are able to rework our dementia-fearful society to a dementia-friendly one

By Cecilia Chan

There’s something very humbling about connecting with individuals dwelling with dementia.

It triggers consciousness inside me of my very own limitations. Usually, being with individuals dwelling with dementia forces me to face the components of me that I could not have the braveness to face – reminiscent of why will we so usually shrink back from individuals who we really feel are completely different from us?

Why is dementia in the present day essentially the most feared situation globally? Not too long ago when a group from Japan visited Malaysia to introduce the artwork of Totsu-Totsu dance as a way of speaking with individuals dwelling with dementia, one man laughingly yelled within the open that we’re losing our time with these “loopy individuals”.

Such are the labels we slap on these dwelling with dementia – demented, dwelling useless, zombies, ineffective, silly, gone and sure, even loopy.

No surprise many worry dementia.

The tales about dementia we come throughout in newspapers, books, magazines, movies, TV and radio ring the alarm, pointing to the disaster that will strike us. Dementia instantly freezes us in worry. However paradoxically, the worry reflex makes the expertise of dementia worse.

We live in a time of dementia. As we reside longer than ever earlier than, dementia touches the lives of extra of us than ever earlier than.

Sure, dementia could be a scary expertise, however it can be rather more. Having been on the planet of dementia for 20 years, I’ve seen individuals with dementia and individuals who love them alike almost drowning in worry, grief, anxiousness and frustration.

And but, I’ve additionally seen rather more. I’ve seen each individuals with dementia and those that look after them remodeling themselves via their fears and coming to really feel highly effective satisfaction and overwhelmingly pleasure, displaying compassion, selflessness and pure love.

Maybe if we share tales of people that transfer via worry and be taught to reside with stigma, who discover which means within the expertise of dementia, we’d assist encourage extra individuals to do the identical – to see dementia as greater than a loss of life sentence.

Maybe if that physician who had handled his sufferers dwelling with dementia the best way he did, had come to phrases together with his personal fears of and discomfort with individuals with dementia, issues could be completely different.

Would the son have forbade his mum to stroll the halls along with her companion if he had extra absolutely understood and accepted her world?

Would my good friend Charlie be topic to such paralysing loneliness if his buddies had a greater grasp of dementia?

Maybe if we don’t really feel awkward round family members with dementia, our buddies dwelling with dementia can proceed to ‘dance’ what they really feel like with out being afraid of being judged.

How will we get to such a spot? A spot the place our fears of dementia don’t cease nursing, medical, and social work college students from learning the best way to work with individuals with dementia. A spot the place daughters and sons, granddaughters and grandsons would possibly sit up for spending time with their dad or mum or grandparent with dementia.

It’s time to look at our attitudes towards and beliefs about dementia. By difficult the stigma round dementia, we are able to rework our dementia-fearful society right into a dementia-friendly one.

Dr Cecilia Chan is a gerontologist, researcher, dementia advocate and activist