Joy, Life & Living, Memories

7 strategies to create harmony in dementialand

Dr. Elaine Eshbaugh writes a warm-hearted, funny and insightful blog Welcome to Dementialand, which I’ve quoted before.

The common sense advice above is taken from her post “Time Management in Dementialand;” it caused me to reflect on strategies and tools we may use as care partners to engage our care partners who live with dementia, stay connected and reduce our own stress.

1 ) Take a walk

There’s no downside and multiple upsides to exercise, particularly walking. It’s a great stress reliever for anyone, living with dementia or not; it helps maintain health, gets you out of the home and into a different space. More activities here.

2 ) Go with the flow

Those with severe memory loss live in the moment – they may not recall the recent past or be able to anticipate what comes next. The environment and people around them must draw them in and simplify their interactions with the world. More about going with the flow here.

3 ) Don’t argue or correct

I spent years arguing with my mother and exacerbating no-win situations before I became aware that debate only created more anger and angst. By arguing, I became the cause of her “bad behaviour.” It wasn’t the disease, it was me; it wasn’t her fault, it was mine. More on that here.

4 ) Listen fully

Listen with more than your ears. Use your eyes, your heart and your mind. Learn to look behind behaviour to discover what a person with dementia is trying to communicate by their actions. Listen to their behaviour–it may say a lot more than their words ever will. More on this here.

5 ) Be quiet

I spent countless hours with my mother holding hands, watching birds at a feeder, looking out at a field, simply being together in silence. Quiet times can be as engaging as activity, and silence provides space for possibility if you let it. Remember the “pregnant pause?” More on this here.

6) Put yourself in their shoes

There’s nothing like seeing things from the other person’s perspective to increase understanding and connection. There are tools to help with that here and here.

7) If something doesn’t work, try something else

It’s useful to have multiple strategies and tools at the ready to manage different sets of circumstances and events, any one of which might work or not at any given time. For example, music might help someone to feel calm today, but baking cookies might do the trick tomorrow. Music might be effective again the day after tomorrow and the following day, but not the day following that. Flexibility and creativity are important.

Read Dr. Eshbaugh’s post Time Management in Dementialand here.

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Joy, Life & Living, Memories

5 thought-provoking quotes on memories in dementialand

When I find a gem, I love to share it. So here’s an introduction to Dr Elaine Eshbaugh’s warm-hearted, funny and insightful blog Welcome to Dementialand.

I’ve extracted five thought-provoking quotes from her post of February 5, 2018, entitled “The Importance (or Lack of Importance of Memories in Dementialand,” which made me chuckle as well as tear up when I read it. One of the five quotes I lifted is pictured above; here are the other four:

“It didn’t matter that what she said made little sense. I will take an illogical and positive conversation over a logical and negative one anytime.”

“I don’t believe anything is ever lost–because it happened. And it shaped our life and the lives of those around us. Forgetting what happened doesn’t negate that.”

“When you don’t recall your past and you don’t have the foresight to think about the future, you reside in the present. And sometimes I am amazed at the joy to be found there.”

“I am in awe at how much people still have to give when their memories fade.”

It saddens me that so many people concentrate on the memory loss associated with Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia, instead of on the joy that may be found in connecting with the person and the capacities that remain.

If we all just shifted focus slightly, dementialand would be a far better place for those who live with ADRD, as well as for those who accompany them.

Read the full text of Dr. Eshbaugh’s post here.

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