Is there anything good about dementia?
You’re probably thinking “what a strange question.” We all know that dementia presents daunting challenges for both caregivers and for people living with dementia. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, family caregivers of people with dementia have more anxiety, stress, and depression than non-caregivers, and caring for someone with dementia has more negative impacts than caring for other disorders. True. Though there is proof of a way to positively influence the experience.
Good Experiences of Caregivers
A huge body of research agrees that caring for people with dementia gets more and more difficult as the disease progresses. However, people who report better, more positive experiences and outcomes start with a different attitude and perception of what it is to care for people with dementia. Generally, caregivers who take a less traditional view of their role and the desired outcomes of their efforts reported a higher quality of life than other caregivers. In fact, 90% of them were more likely to report positive aspects of caregiving for those with dementia.
Researcher and author Geofrey Tremont compared 41 of the most meaningful cases from a 1,000 case studies and found that “Most caregivers report some degree of satisfaction with providing care, including feeling needed and useful, feeling good about oneself, learning new skills, developing a positive attitude and appreciation for life, and strengthening relationships with others.”
Good experiences of people with dementia.
Life changes with dementia but can continue on in meaningful and sometimes surprising ways. One former musician who now has dementia recently became famous for improvising a beautiful composition on four notes that was later arranged for the London Philharmonic Orchestra. An interesting note: the part of the brain that relates to musical understanding and skill is the last area affected by dementia. This man, his family, the Philharmonic and all of its listeners experienced something incredibly beautiful from a man with dementia. If you haven’t seen the video or heard the composition, it’s worth listening to.
In many ways, people with an early diagnosis of dementia who choose to find positive sides of the disease can continue to grow by making new friends, learning more about themselves, and growing emotionally. Participants in the Dementia Australia video series “Courageous Conversations” said that their story hasn’t ended; only that the ending has changed. The series is a dementia overview that includes nine short videos on topics ranging from “What is dementia?” to “What should people know about dementia?” in the words of people with dementia.
Even under the most positive of attitudes, at Avalon Memory Care we understand the difficulties family caregivers face as dementia progresses is very real. We know the stages of this life changing experience can be stressful for families, even with the very best of attitudes. We want to help you and your loved one get on the most positive path possible by answering your questions and providing support along this new journey. We know some days will be better than others. Regardless, we want you to know that our memory care community is here for you and your family as you continue to make decisions around your loved one’s care.
•Farina, N., Page, T.E., Daley, S., Brown, A., Bowling, A., Basset, T., Livingston, G., Knapp, M., Murray, J. and Banerjee, S. (2017), “Factors associated with the quality of life of family carers of people with dementia: A systematic review.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 13: 572-581. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2016.12.010.
•Tremont, Geofrey. “Family Caregiving in Dementia.” Medicine and health, Rhode Island vol. 94 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3487163/
•The “Unexpected Positives of Dementia,” one part of the “Courageous Conversations” series of nine videos discussing dementia in the words of people with dementia, produced by Dementia Australia. https://youtu.be/2D0TpkzqG3w.
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