Giving Dignity Back To Those With Dementia

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These are a couple of blossoms, from my peach tree, which I photographed yesterday. My brother J.R. loved to walk around my yard and smell the flowers.

Once again I have read the book “Dementia Beyond Drugs,” by Dr. G. Allen Power.  I mentioned Dr. Power in my blog post “Dementia – A Different Approach,” January 19, 2015.  Dr. Power’s concept of little or no drugs is wonderful.

When I cared for my brother J.R., for two years in my home, I chose not to give him any antipsychotic or any other type of drug. I wanted J.R. to be able to function at his best during the time I cared for him.  I admit J.R. was hard to handle and he wandered a lot. When I placed J.R. in a nursing home nine months ago they immediately drugged him into a comatose state.  I talked to them many times about these drugs, but all they did was constantly change doses and drugs according to J.R.’s behavior.  They took J.R.’s dignity away him and gave him an almost non-existent life with these drugs.

When you cannot care for your loved one anymore you have no choice, but to place them somewhere.  I fought a hard, costly battle to obtain Medicaid for J.R.  Finally prayers were answered and we obtained long-term-care funding.  My daughter and I searched long and diligently for the right nursing home in which to place J.R.

I will not infringe on Dr. Power’s copyright by quoting what I have read in his fantastic book.  I will interpret my views, of what I have read, in my own words.

When residents with dementia were placed in situations with children and pets – beautiful friendships and happiness occurred. Why, you wonder, because children and dogs are not judgmental.  The dementia patients had increased meaning in their lives in this type of interaction.

Nursing homes are not viewing those with dementia as productive human beings.  The nursing homes are disrespecting, dehumanizing, and disconnecting dementia patients from what life they have left on this earth.  I do not think nursing homes are doing this deliberately, but because they wish to control their patients.

I know from experience that elderly and dementia people are lonely, helpless, and bored. I have dealt with my mother, who had dementia, until her death and am now dealing with my 3 siblings who are in different stages of dementia.  Those in nursing homes need to be able to live their latter days of life with happiness and dignity.  They are no less important than the rest of the human race on this earth, especially in God’s eyes.

Medications are not important to dementia patients.  Drugs are important to caregivers and nursing homes.  What is important to a dementia patient?  Love and caring.

Dementia patients need a different type of interaction than normal people.  We need to talk to and handle them in a slower, calmer manner; make visiting with them more meaningful; they need a restful, calm, quiet life; give them the dignity you would give any person you interact with; genuinely smile, laugh, touch them softly, make connections; they need a quiet home in which to live, because they do not understand chaos.  Those with dementia function as a child, their life is going backward as opposed to a small child’s life.  I remember my brother J.R. telling me months ago, he liked his nice, big, new home, but it sure was noisy.  He is right, it sure is noisy!

God bless all caregiver out there.  I know just how hard it is to keep your sanity through the stressful process of care giving.  There is still stress and decision-making once you place your loved one in a nursing home.  If you are like me, you never wanted the responsibility of ruling another person’s life.

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7 thoughts on “Giving Dignity Back To Those With Dementia

  1. Very emotional yet very informative post and yes so true they need love and not to be judged. Powerful words, brilliant Lizzie.
    Thank you all your knowledge is incredibly helpful.

  2. Dr. Thomas & Dr. Power have established nursing homes all over the world that use little or no drugs. Eden Alternative or Green House nursing homes. They both tour the world trying to teach these concepts.

  3. Hi Lizzie. Thank you for writing this, though I wish I had read this post while my grandmother was still alive. She had dementia until she passed away at 86. My only regret now is that I never had the foresight to do the things that you’ve highlighted here. I never knew that I would one day come to regret not being more loving, more caring to my grandma. I miss her every single day..

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