CASE STUDY

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.

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Is Dementia A Disease Or A Habit?

About The Author: 

Elizabeth currently lives on The Gold Coast Of Australia and is a mother, teacher, business developer and author of the International Best Seller 500 Confessions. She worked as a Professional Counsellor, has trained to lead Group Therapy Workshops, attended many seminars by Robert Kiyosaki (world renowned best selling author of ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad), studied Strategic Intervention with Anthony Robbins and Cloé Madanes and is a certified Rebirth Practitioner (Australian Institute Of Rebirthing). These days Elizabeth enjoys a life of total luxury but still plays as a writer professional photographer and web designer. Her passion for living, loving and laughing, remains at the forefront of her focus.

3 thoughts on “Is Dementia A Disease Or A Habit?

  • January 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm
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    Dementia is not a disease, but rather an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms that may accompany or indicate certain diseases or conditions. Today over 60 different conditions are known to cause dementia symptoms. Symptoms may include impaired memory and confusion, difficulty in performing day-to-day or familiar tasks, and changes in personality, mood, and behaviour. When caused by disease or injury, dementia is usually irreversible; however, the symptoms may be reversible when caused by treatable conditions, such as: dehydration, constipation, infection, vitamin deficiencies and imbalances, pain, medication poisoning, brain tumours or depression.

    The first signs and changes in a person with dementia may be scarcely noticeable as most often they come on gradually. (Except in cases like multi-infarct dementia, which takes a more step-like decline.) The person or family may initially only notice memory lapses, such as difficulty in remembering dates or finding the right word. The person may use impaired judgement resulting in financial or ill-considered decisions. Behaviour and personality changes may occur too, such as becoming more assertive/more withdrawn, less flexible; showing a loss of interest in things that have mattered previously, becoming absent minded or repeating the same story or question.

    Each person will be affected in his or her own unique way, and also dependant on the type or cause of his or her dementia. It is important to avoid foretelling the future or embracing all the pessimistic possibilities you may hear or read of because such negative predictions may well result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The fact that some brain cells die or that there has been a deterioration of brain cells resulting in the onset of dementia does not mean the path ahead has to be all downhill. Some research studies show that there is no correlation between the severity of brain damage and the extent to which a person is generally affected by the dementia process.

    Research into the brain also shows that even though some brain cells may die, the brain has the capability to repair itself, creating new networks and pathways to link information stored in cells that are still functioning. There is much excitement in the scientific world about the possibility of nerve regrowth in the brains of people with dementia.

    We know through experience that people with dementia have a fabulous ability to develop new strategies and behaviours to compensate for what they have lost. Positive responses to and interpretations of these changes, strategies and behaviours can be a matter of attitude, both in the person and those of their supportive partners or “carers”.

    Often, after a dementia diagnosis, focus fixes only on the person’s symptoms and behaviour rather than on his or her needs. With this daunting diagnosis, it can seem that there is not much that can be done and it can be very hard to maintain a positive attitude. However, if we shift our focus and energy to the person’s strengths and remaining abilities, it will help us to keep a positive attitude and influence both the way we care and how the person we support will feel and respond to us.

    The first step is to switch our thinking from – dementia as resulting from an irreversible, degenerative disease of the brain without a cure. (A very negative picture); To: – dementia resulting from a disability of certain parts of the brain. We need to remember that the rest of the person is still alive, feeling, sensitive and responsive. There are many possibilities to work with to help the individual improve, blossom and grow. By focusing on all that the person can still do, we can help ensure meaningful, positive and fulfilling lives for those we support.

  • January 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm
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    Thank you VERY much for such a well researched and balanced response Danielle. I don’t know how you found us but I am very glad you’re here.

  • January 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm
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    After 6 days of re-evaluating his belief structures, changing the way he talked about his condition, made improvements to the way he cares for himself and behaves, giving him a vision for the future and integrating him back into home and family life, my friend went to visit the doctor again and was told he was merely “suffering from memory loss”.

    I don’t really believe this to be completely accurate, but it’s a much better label than Dementia.

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