Looking at dementia differently

A while ago I posted on a dementia facebook group the quote 'Dementia does not rob someone of their dignity, it's our reaction to them that does'.  The vast majority of people responded positively but some disagreed which almost made me despair.  Those people still thought it was dementia that was stealing the dignity but as this  article demonstrates it really is the way we think about it.


Everyone changes as they go through life.  If I dare to look back at the person I was at school I recognise bits of me but, thankfully, not the whole person (I like to think I kept the nicer parts and discarded the rest).  A person with dementia is no different.  Their personality may have changed on the surface but deep down something of the old them remains and it's up to us to find the bits that are hidden.  If we assume that they are their dementia then there really is no hope.  This seems to be something our friends have taken on board with gusto.  When I first tell people Ash has dementia they are immediately sorry for us but then I tell them the 'no questions' bit.  Some people look at me a little oddly but decide to give it a go (it's an easy ask  after all) which means Ash is instantly put at ease and can be part of what's going on around us.  This in turn lets them see past the dementia to the person who still exists.  I keep saying this but, if you  are living with dementia and haven't yet plucked up courage to tell people, try it as soon as you can.  Tell them the news then give them the strategies they need and sit back to watch what happens.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.   There may be nothing you can do about the physical difficulties which come with some types of dementia and there may be little you can do about the cognitive difficulties that accompany it (although I think our experience would show you can at least do something) but there is a great deal we can do to change attitudes and it really is those attitudes which dictate whether or not a person loses their dignity.

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