My friend was diagnosed with Dementia.
He suffered a fall a week ago, injured his back and was hospitalized to recover. On the first night he was there the staff restrained him by putting the sides up on his bed. They were doing what they thought was right and in accordance with basic medical procedures. In pain and under the influence of whatever drugs they had chosen to pump into him for the night, he called out angrily to be let out of bed so he could go to the toilet (as he normally would). I was told that it took 4 people to restrain him, he was injured physically yet again during the process of being restrained and then they sedated him VERY heavily to PUT A STOP to his “aggressive behaviour”.
Please note – as with anything, I am telling the story from one perspective – the one I have heard from other people involved and some of the nursing staff. There are OFTEN other issues that we might not be aware of that have also contributed to the situation so this story is to be taken simply as ONE part to the whole truth.
I can completely understand how my friend must have felt. He has always been a fairly fit and mostly active man and must have been so confused by what was happening to him and around him. I can also understand the procedures that the hospital staff must adhere to in order to operate with 3 staff for every 30 patients in this small country town in Australia. It’s just “the normal thing” that to think that CONTROL is the best form of operating smoothly, so I have no issues with the hospital or the staff – in fact MOST of them are unbelievably compassionate and caring.
So, I’ve now left my comfortable and luxurious life and packed everything I need in the car and driven 7 hours north to be with my friend who is in hospital … I’m currently sleeping on the hospital floor. I came prepared and brought along some bedding – as I wanted to be able to do as much as possible to assist everyone involved in this all too common situation.
Since I have been with him in hospital now for about 60 hours or so, there has been incredible improvement in this ‘so-called’ medical condition. We are now in the happy process of proving that:
“… dementia is NOT some random incident that just HAPPENS to certain elderly people, it has partly to do with a number of contributing factors …
…THEIR OWN negative mental attitude (asking things like “why did this happen to me?” simply doesn’t work. Read “Change The Way You Think – empowering questions to ask yourself” to find out what would be better),
… Lack of mental and physical stimulation,
… Loss of “faith that there’s a greater purpose to life (not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel),
…The way we treat these patients using traditional medical practices (once hospitalized, they are usually prescribed something like Valium and restrained to control their desire to have their freedom – I reckon I’d exhibit signs of dementia if you did that to me too).
…The way we treat these people by working with their so-called limitations instead of their capabilities. For example, I let my friend do everything he could to dress, feed and clean himself no matter how long it took and only assisted where necessary. When someone else tended to him, his food was cut up much like you would do for a very young child with the assumption that he couldn’t do it for himself – that was that persons belief and not close to the reality of the situation at all.
We now have him off the medication after I stood my ground with the head doctor. He’s quit cold turkey and has freedom of movement in his physical body as well as his mind – and much less pain (seems silly doesn’t it). I’ve also worked on helping him change his negative focus to a more life enhancing one. We’re having more fun that ever before.
I’m sure there are other people doing work like this. It’s not rocket science – it’s basic common sense, but I must tell you, I am incredibly, incredibly, incredibly grateful to Anthony Robbins and the Strategic Intervention training. It’s helped me be so incredibly clear about what to do to change thoughts, words and behaviour in, not only myself, but in the people around me – should they wish to make any changes. Now that’s something worth working for.
But there is a lesson to be learned here if we are to care for the elderly people in our family, our community, our society or our culture.
Take some time and decide what you want your future to be like right up until your death. Don’t pretend that you’re never gonna die like most people do. Talk about it, not in a morbid way, but as if death is simply another stage of growth. Plan your life in accordance with your desires … and most of all, take care of the elderly in your family because you might be just like them one day – and I wonder how you’ll feel then!
Feel free to share your stories too. We’d love to hear them.