The final episode of Dementiaville focused on relationships and the effect on marriages. Jane, the professional, was from Ivy House – a day care centre. I was disturbed to see it was called
“Cognitive therapy for dementia sufferers”
This shows we’re still not there yet even with professionals so how can we expect families to understand the importance of using positive language. Words used are key to setting the right tone from the start. Negative words give a negative image, positive words give a positive image – it’s not rocket science as far as I’m aware??? So why not
“Cognitive therapy centre for those living with dementia”
Jane showed the wives and men living with dementia a lot of compassion, empathy and understanding and it’s difficult to know the agenda the programme makers had in mind and what it didn’t show but the programme was unbalanced in favour of the carers and paid little attention to those with dementia and what they might have thought and felt.
At one point one of the wives said They went to doctor when there were significant problems – ‘I’d known for 6years’. This is why people should seek an early diagnosis.. It showed the need for more awareness and to highlight the advantage of an early diagnosis to enable people to see how much you can do, how much you can set in place and more importantly, talk about, while you’re still able. It would give you the chance to focus on the here and now and do the things you want to do now. Training, support and guidance are needed for professionals and families – not just in the first year, second year but every step of the way as needs change.
Last nights episode didn’t change the views I expressed in the 2nd episode. Namely that carers ‘needing’ training and guidance is a difficult concept to acknowledge and accept. Professionals need to develop and use positive language and positive methods of delivering strategies. If this was the case families would then have a positive outlook and this in turn would lead to a positive experience for both carers and the person with dementia – win win. When challenges are met they would then look at ways of following a new path to outmaneuver the challenge thrown at them by the dementia.
I’m not saying we, as people with dementia and their loved ones don’t have challenging times and days when we feel down, days when the dementia gets the upper hand, but we all have sad days, no matter what our health. But for everyone, positive language gives you a feeling of wellbeing and can lift your mood. A smile, laughter, a compliment, a solution will make any issue seem less depressing and give you a feeling that you’re trying to outmaneuver the dementia. You’re helping yourself and each other to find ways to turn negatives into positives. Maybe I’m alone in these opinions………?
If we can get all professionals involved to have a positive attitude it would help people with dementia and their loved ones to also have a positive outlook For example, to look at solutions for issues. .The more positive times you can have in your life, the nicer it is to be alive:)
What the programme clearly lacked were the voices of the people with dementia. Because of this, Joseph Rowntree Foundation asked me to write a guest blog for their website – a resume of the series as a whole. You can read it by clicking on the link below if you’re interested.
Neither did it show the need for all to make a Lasting Power of Attorney and the consequences of not having one. It proved words do matter – ‘destroying’ ‘sufferer’, ‘end of their life’ – are all negative words – we need to learn the importance of positive language. – ‘start of a new journey’ ,’person with dementia’, ‘changing’, ‘adapting’ to enable a better experience for all parties.
One thing it highlighted that I hadn’t thought of before was how second marriages could have more challenges because as memories fade further back in time, the person with dementia remembers a life they may not have been apart of – it was Australia for Mike and Jenny – he was obviously most happy and comfortable back then – luckily for Jenny he didn’t talk about his ex wife!
It did put in my mind that as my disease progresses, that I may go back to a time when I was married – now that would be hilarious and very confusing for my daughters!!!
I’m glad Channel 4 chose to show the series but I found it annoying that they aired the positive happy programme on at 9pm and the ones they deemed difficult at 11pm – mmmmmm, what does that say?