Make Personal Goals to Fight Dementia
One might think that someone having dementia means an end to their life as they once knew it-and one would be right! Life is NOT the same, but neither is it the end of one's life. So much depends on the type of dementia and the mental attitude of both the person with dementia and that of those persons around him/her. It is normal, of course, to be alarmed and maybe even angry when first diagnosed. But knowledge is power. It is important to learn all you can about the disorder and then-choose to FIGHT it!! But HOW does one fight dementia???? Here's my own personal list, imperfect as it is:
1. Get healthy...or healthier. Exercise your body. Forgo the mundane ways if they bore you. Go to an indoor mall-walk briskly around. (If you must shop, do it AFTER your walking session.) If you can do this with a friend, that's even better! Other ideas: go to a park with your grandchild. Take a paddle boat ride on the lake. Play a little tennis-you know, you don't always have to play a game. Just getting on the court is going to be exercise itself, what with the walking, swinging, bending, etc. Rake leaves. Pull weeds...the list is endless.
2. Get outside to soak up your Vitamin D. I've seen recommendations of twenty minutes a day. I've also read that you should expose your arms and legs to the sun.
3. Exercise your mind. Sudoku is big at the moment. I, personally, don't care for it. I tolerate crossword puzzles, which is another good exercise for the mind. I exercise my mind using other activities. I write this blog. I develop and teach Strengthening Your Mind classes to senior centers and church groups. I plan menus and keep a calendar...both of which are ways to strengthen your mind and stay structured at the same time. Read! Listen to music! Watch the news (it's slanted, I know...perhaps you could watch it, looking for its slant!)
4. Take your medications faithfully. This is especially hard for me and probably difficult for anyone with dementia. Develop your best strategies to help with medication. These strategies will need to be revised from time to time.
5. Use positive reinforcements. Keep a list of WHAT I CAN's. Here's part of mine:
I CAN ...
Plant a couple of tomato plants.
Weed the garden.
Go grocery shopping by myself.
Fix a simple dinner.
Vaccuum a room.
Wash and fold clothes.
Making the list gives positive affirmation to one's day. Add to it on a regular basis. Of course, I should add to the end of each item the word SOMETIMES as much depends on how I'm feeling that day. I do have my okay days and then I have my "no can do" days which are a total loss. Even with that, looking at the list and adding to it does give one's outlook a boost. Post the list somewhere obvious so that you can read it frequently.
6. Get counseling. It can be helpful in working through the many problems which pop up once a dementia diagnosis is made. Often, once diagnosis is made, friends may begin to drift away from the person with dementia. Counseling can help one deal with the losses-and changes--that dementia brings. In my last blog, I mentioned a study done by Ms. Roger's at the University of Manitoba in 2008 which deals with counseling and dementia. I am still working on the blog about that study. I hope to have it ready next week.
7. Keep up an open stream of communication with those around you. Voice your concerns. Let them know your needs. Tell them your fears. Share your thoughts.
8. Every day will bring new challenges. Work together with those around you to solve the problems you are having. Just the other day, my husband discovered that I had the heat on in the bathroom following my shower instead of the exhaust. There I was, trying to put my hair up in electric rollers, oblivious to my mistake. I had noticed that my hair which had been dry when I started was wringing wet now, but it never occurred to me that I had turned on the heat instead of the exhaust fan. It became quickly obvious that I could no longer remember which switch was exhaust and which was heat. The solution: We labeled the light switch-L (light), E (exhaust), H (heat). Just one example of how working together to solve a problem is beneficial.
My helpful hints list is far from comprehensive, but I do hope it will help. Until next week...have a good one!!