Contributed by Sarah Viola
A loved one looking at dementia and its symptoms from the outside has a much different perspective on the disease than a person who is living with it. As a person progress through various types and stages of dementia, they begin to view the world differently than they once did. Understanding how people with dementia experience the world around them can help bring valuable insight to their caregivers and loves ones – and assist them in developing a better sense of patience, empathy, and understanding.
A view from the caregiver:
My loved one has gotten so mean! She is just not herself. At times, she acts as I’ve always remembered her, but then there are also times where she come across very rude, self-centered, and angry. Everything she is thinking just comes out, regardless of whether or not it may hurt or offend someone else. She is very demanding of my time and can’t seem to understand that I have so many other things to do each day in addition to caring for her.
My loved one doesn’t seem to enjoy what they use to and often says “no” to attending even things they previously loved and would have enjoyed. This creates what appears to be outbursts at those trying to care for her, it’s embarrassing at times. It’s almost like she is taking out her anger on everyone around her, the people that love her the most. I don’t know what to do, she just doesn’t listen anymore.
A view from the person with dementia:
I keep hearing the word “dementia” being thrown around whenever people are with me. I try to keep up, but all the conversations and planning that my family and friends are trying to do “for me” is just overwhelming me. I am having a hard time thinking lately and the world feels like it’s moving so fast that I can’t keep up.
I run into so many problems throughout my day, but the tough part is that I’m not always sure what the problems are. I don’t understand why I am having so much trouble, but I know it’s there. I am trying hard to cover for it, though, to keep my loved ones from knowing that there is something wrong.
I know that my family thinks I’m always angry and rude. In reality, I am just frustrated and overwhelmed with everything that is happening to me. I can’t process everything they are expecting of me, it’s too challenging. I say “no” often because it is the only way I can keep my loved ones from seeing my struggles. I don’t want them to see me in situations where I get frustrated and embarrass myself. What my family doesn’t understand is that I wish I wasn’t so short tempered. I wish I was comfortable attending events and activities like I used to. I feel extremely insecure because my world has become so big and fast paced.
At Primrose, we know that the effects of dementia can be emotionally and physically taxing on families. You don’t always have all the answers, and that’s okay. Remember to take time for yourself and your family, and know that if you need help, we would be honored to assist you. Just visit our website at www.primroseretirement.com for more info.