A few months ago, before I started writing this blog, Jake and I went on a two day course to learn more about dementia. This was through The Contented Dementia Trust, a truly inspiring small charity based in the Cotswolds, and was the most useful thing I think I've ever done. For those of you who don't have boys, especially boys who went away to university at 18 and never really returned home, you will only be able to guess at how nice a time we had. As Jake said, circumstances aside it was a really lovely two days. Those two days however were also spent learning about what it feels like to have dementia and how those of us who don't have this disease can help make life better for everyone. We can't change what's happening, we can only change how we deal with the situation and it's up to us to make sure those changes happen. I have used lots of the strategies over the past 3 months and every one has made a difference. Life isn't perfect however and this isn't always easy. When your person with dementia appears to be difficult, irrational or infuriating (and this will always happen, none of us are saints) you need to find a way to keep calm. Last weekend I delivered a training course on managing challenging behaviour in out of school clubs and one of the slides, that I'd seen lots of times but obviously never connected with, gave the following instructions before moving in to deal with a recalcitrant child:
- close your eyes
- count to 10
- think of something funny
I remembered this on the way to work this morning after a complicated start to the day and decide to try it but with one difference. Those who read the post 2 days ago will know that I love holidays so in place of something funny I decided to think of somewhere wonderfully calm that we've visited. As the vast majority of our holidays were designed to be relaxing this means that I can actually change the picture on a regular basis which in turn means those difficult times might not be quite so draining. Watch this space to see how it goes.