The world we once knew has changed
What a difference 2020 has made to our daily lives. While the world we once knew has changed considerably, it has also isolated many of us from life itself. This may be for all of us just a small taste of what it might feel like to have dementia. To be cut off from loved ones and from a world that was already isolating and punishing enough.
For me, it’s the sadness of seeing aged care homes going into lock down or implementing extreme measures in order to keep everyone safe. So, while this is an absolute necessity, it’s also heart breaking.
It saddens me to know that those living with dementia are now in many cases more alone than ever.
The experience of dementia
In order to connect with someone living with dementia we must first think about what it might be like to have the disease. That everyday reality where you and I have hope for the future, dementia unfortunately leaves the person with so little to look forward to.
What we’ve experienced through this pandemic is just a small taste of the world that someone with dementia lives in. While we have the hope of a return to normality, that is sadly not afforded to someone with dementia.
This humbling experience for us is one that we must embrace as a true insight into what it feels like to have your liberties taken away, to face restrictions and disconnection.
We’ll come out stronger because of our learnings from this. We can use this time to think and create a better world for supporting people living with dementia and their families.
Feelings of disconnection
Every day for all of us is about attempting to adapt to the ever-changing landscape and we do this without knowing what will happen next. What I do know is that staying connected with someone living with dementia is now even more important than ever.
Many families and friends are feeling this disconnection not only due to the lock down but also because many families are caring from afar. Whether they’re interstate or overseas with a great divide between loved ones, there’s still things that can be done.
Can we possibly make a difference?
Is it still possible to bring a sense of comfort when visiting and spending time with a loved one or friend may no longer be an option?
This was my motivation to do more in this space and to find and align myself with likeminded others who wanted to also influence change. Change doesn’t have to be about the big things, it’s often the small everyday things that often have the greatest impact.
Whether someone is living with dementia at home, living next door to you, or in supported care, there is always something we can do to make their day just that little bit brighter.
Some suggestions to let someone living with dementia know that you care:
- Leave a note or card to say how lovely it was to catch up.
- Post a note or card saying that you’re looking forward to catching up soon for a coffee, wine or a meal.
- When writing a letter or a card make sure you use large print or font.
- Get family members from afar to email letters to you that you can then print off and send or deliver to the person.
- Encourage children to participate by doing drawings that will often bring a smile.
- Drop off a care package wrapped as a present that the person will enjoy opening. This may include a new pair of slippers, a book, magazine and favourite treats or snacks.
These examples will not only assist someone to remember times gone by but also provide those around them ways to connect.
The following quote is one I try to live by everyday:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
DEMENTIA DOULAS INTERNATIONAL
I have been working in the areas of health and aged care for over 25 years and am now the Director and founder of Dementia Doulas International. I hold a Bachelor of Nursing, a Diploma of Applied Science (Ambulance Studies), a Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment & Training and a Certificate IV in Celebrancy. I have been privileged over the years to use my diverse skill set within a variety of settings including the acute care, pre-hospital, community & residential sectors.
My role in the development of training and mentoring for emerging Dementia Doula’s has been evolving over many years. It brings together my areas of passion to better serve those I represent. My interactive approach challenges mindsets and encourages those supporting someone or working within the area of dementia to explore a different way of thinking.
My ultimate goal is to shift preconceived ideas about existing barriers to dementia care and influence the palliative care space so that no one goes it alone.