If you work with or love someone or many with dementia you will know that frustration is a new part of life.
Frustration when you are unable to help the person understand what you need them to do. Frustration when they are unable to make you understand what they need. Frustration when a conversation from 5 minutes previous is forgotten. Frustration when conversations don’t go as you might hope.
Frustration harms every aspect of us, physically and emotionally. It is experienced whenever the results we are expecting do not seem to fit the effort and action we are applying. The feeling of being upset, annoyed or angry is what results.
Nobody wants that.
So how can we make the experience different for everyone involved? Of course, the very presence of dementia in the space creates frustration. This will be so much more apparent when our expectations are coming from a space where we are trying to work around dementia rather than with it.
The loss of cognition (the ability to think things through) due to dementia means that things will not be understood as they would have been pre-dementia. This comparison is much more apparent for those that are loving someone than those working with someone. Those of us that work with people tend to take people as they are. Family members will often, not unsurprisingly compare the person’s abilities with before, this brings up a feeling of loss to add to the frustration. Any person that has experienced a loved one’s progression through dementia will know the deep sadness that comes from the innate need for them to be as they once were. It isn’t always conscious.
It is why in our therapeutic work we give space for the person with dementia to just be as they are without the comparison of what was, so they might start to fill their new skin and be happy there and be in the moment with us and their peers trying out their new skin too.
My colleague often says if we could see through peoples skulls and see the physical effect of dementia on the brain we would be in awe of how those with dementia are managing.
So what’s the secret to reducing frustration for those with dementia and their families?
The secret is held already by those with dementia; being in the moment. In the conversations you have, in the action, you are expecting, in everything.
Whilst the world spends over 3.3billion US dollars in health and wellness, mindfulness practice, retreats, therapy and spas, people living with dementia are masters. When dementia takes cognition, people living with dementia are able to BE.
Be in the present moment, in the “here and now,” without cognition they are aware and mindful only of what is happening at this very moment. They are not distracted by ruminations on the past or worrying about the future. People living with dementia have their attention focused only on the present moment.
This gift is yours to have.
If you would like to learn how to really be in the moment with the people you care for and have conversations that create laughter, curiosity, fun and lightness without effort or frustration simply by being, check out our FREE Workshop How To Have Great Conversations With People Living with Dementia on youtube. While you are there be sure to subscribe to our channel and check out any FREE workshops we have coming soon here.