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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

We have to ask Ourselves

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One thing I have learnt through my years of living with Dementia, is that at times, how I am interpreting a situation or things being said by others, can vary immensely. This comes from having felt alienated, hurt, pushed aside, along with many other types of feelings. At times, I reacted too quickly, sometimes, I reacted without asking the person if I was understanding and interpreting what was being said or done correctly.

I have learnt that my dementia at times, makes it difficult to read and understand the signals that are meant or given and whether I am actually taking it in as it is meant. This can lead to much discomfort for many, I have seen and watched this with many with Dementia. I have monitored myself and have come to understand that if my health is in a compromised time, if I am maybe struggling with fatigue, if I have been over taxing my brain by taking on too much, then somehow my brain starts misinterpreting the words and actions of those around me.

We do not and cannot and must not blame our actions and reactions always on our Dementia, we must be willing to look at what is truly our nature, and maybe something we need to do personal work on. Having dementia does not make us exempt for acknowledging and working on ourselves, it does not give us the right to point fingers and blame, without being willing to look at ourselves and our roles. To say it’s my Dementia, is not OK. Playing the Dementia Card as they say can do a lot of damage not only to ourselves but to others.

This also does not mean that others can treat us badly or insensitively because we won’t know the difference. That is a very dangerous road for anyone to travel. The pain and destruction caused can be irreversible. The truth is our emotional ( feeling) portion of our being is the last to leave, they say that we may not remember what you said, but we will remember how you made us feel, I believe that to be true wholeheartedly.

At the same time if we come up against the same ” feelings” in situations over and over with multiple people or situations we need to ask ourselves what our role is and what we are maybe misinterpreting. When we have the willingness to do this, it allows us to live our best lives with our Dementia, and have more fulfilled relationships with others. There will be times when our dementia overrides our abilities in these regards, but not every time, not all the time. Usually if we look back at situations if we keep getting the same types of results it means there is a lesson for us, and our dementia does not hinder our ability to recognize those. It may very well just mean we have to remind ourselves to be cognizant of our inability to always read a situation, or the actions of others correctly, and that perhaps we need to give ourselves a “time out”, before we respond in ways that cause unnecessary harm.

After all we are still human, we still react, we still feel, and sometimes just as with people who do not act or react, sometimes doing nothing for a time is the best medicine. Somehow, people with Dementia tend to place higher expectations on themselves and on others, I have yet to understand why, except that there is always a feeling to prove that we are still able and capable. But being mindful that we are still human and taking the time to do self evaluations and ensuring to listen to those around us who may be trying to let us know that we need to check in to ensure that what we are feeling and reacting to is accurate.

There are times take a step back, where I have to decide that it’s time for me to let some things go to be able to fully give to certain things. This is another area where we tend to push and tend to not let go. It doesn’t mean we can’t contribute, but maybe we contribute from the background versus the foreground. Maybe we contribute less frequently, or maybe we take a total step back, because we are have another project that requires more focus. There is nothing wrong with doing those things, in fact we tend to do a better job when again we are willing to not look for accolades, or praise, but instead looking at how and where we are contributing in a good way.

It may mean we take a step, away from one Organization or project to dedicate time to another, it does not mean we have to step away for ever, it just means we step away for a time, so that others can step in and up and that way everything we have been and are and may again be involved have the ability to thrive. This is about respecting the Organizations we work with, the people we work with and the overall goal of making things better for those living with Dementia. This is where we have to do that self check in again and make sure our own egos are not hindering us from doing the step back when it clearly is the right thing to do. Its all hard work, it takes courage, but one thing I have learnt is people living with Dementia are some of the most courageous people I have met.

I took Friday, Saturday and Sunday off because checking in I knew if I wanted to be able to contribute to the up coming week it was a necessity. there are and have been and will be in the future times, whether days or weeks, that I will take total breaks, so that I can continue in a positive way for a longer period of time. Somehow I wish all these lessons had been learnt long before my Dementia brought them to the forefront.

By Chrissy's Journey

I am an advocate for people with dementia in Canada and globally, having been diagnosed with younger onset dementia myself a few years ago.

2 replies on “We have to ask Ourselves”

Hi Chrissy,

Thank you, again, for sharing your story. I can relate to stepping away from things. I have been doing that more and more lately. So many distractions with everything going on with the world. Glad you are finding time to step away and take a break.

Take care,

M

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Thanks Chrissy, food for thought. I love how you say, “ one thing I have learnt is people living with Dementia are some of the most courageous people I have met.”

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