These gifts are inexpensive (they don’t cost dollars and cents, so everyone can afford them), and yet priceless (because of the fact they can’t be bought, and must be given from the heart). Even better, they can be gifted all year round!
Please consider giving one, several or all of these gifts this year (and always) to people who live with dementia in your family, your community and around the world.
You could treat people who live with dementia like the human beings they still are no matter what “stage” of the condition they are living with. You could treat them like adults, not children. You could respect their wishes, wants and desires. You could believe their lives still have value, and you could demonstrate that belief in the way you interact with them.
You may have been told that people who live with dementia become empty shells. But that’s not true. They are people with rights and needs just like the rest of us, and they need to be loved just like the rest of us do. Share your love.
You could give them the most precious gift of all: the gift of time. Carve out a space in your busy life and go to visit someone living alone, or someone who rarely gets visitors even if they are living in community. Once you get there, sit and stay awhile. You don’t have to do anything – just being with someone is often enough.
People who live with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are widely misunderstood, stigmatized and marginalized. If each and every one of us took the time to educate ourselves and to really understand what’s going one with people who live with dementia, and what causes them to behave the way they do, we would all be a lot better off. If you haven’t already begun learning, start educating yourself now.
Imagine what it might be like to be experiencing brain changes in which your memory and your ability to understand the world are shifting in ways that make it hard for you to navigate reality. Imagine what it might be like to experience stigma and isolation, to have other people take control of your life. Imagine what it might be like to walk in their shoes, and then give the people you interact with who are living with dementia your compassion and understanding.
People who live with dementia are often treated like objects, like pieces of furniture, as if they are less than human. Many are unable to speak up for themselves. We need to be their voice. We need to ensure that they are treated with dignity, and that they get the care they have a right to. When you see people who live with dementia being neglected, abused or treated in ways they shouldn’t be, SAY SOMETHING! And then keep advocating until things change.
These are gifts that money can’t buy, but that we all have the capacity to give.
Please give generously.