We are always asking for and looking for innovations in technology that will enhance our lives, and there have been many things that are and do help. But the flip side is, how much isn’t helping, causing us more stress and anxiety. In an attempt to use technology to improve our quality of life, to help us stay independent it has also created and became so complicated it is for many and for much of the time no longer helpful, it has in fact become hurtful.
When talking with and listening to many living with dementia, the idea of zoom to attend things and stay connected are vital, but in an attempt to keep people connected during covid, it has in fact become over used, more and more groups offering different things to attend, this idea is great, but it has hit the point where organizations must start working together to schedule things and make things easier to access, instead of overwhelming. People are feeling they are being forced to choose, feeling they will upset someone if they don’t take part in this instead of that, this creates stress and anxiety, none of which are good or helpful to those living with Dementia. We run the risk of having people drop out and away from all because it has become to much.
The solution is clear, it is time for a round table with all the group leaders of organizations who are and trying to do these online forums and events so they can truly be done in a manner that is first and foremost helpful to those living with Dementia, not just those running these organizations. Never before have we been at this critical time, all these groups and Organizations have a vital role to play, but they must sit at the table talk about how to help not hurt one another and the people they are trying to help.
Another piece of this puzzle is all the social media outlets, great for keeping us informed, but they become less helpful and more hurtful to us when we have to try to fight pop ups constantly, struggle with trying to figure out how to operate these Social Media platforms. When we struggle to operate them, they are no longer helpful, they start creating anxiety, stress, which impacts our dementia and not in good ways, again we become overwhelmed and people end up more isolated because they drop off trying to navigate them. Phones fall into this category as well. These things not only effect people with dementia but people who are older, and people with many other disabilities. I could go into more details about the positives and the shortfalls but I think most of you could add to the list.
The other thing that is really coming to light is that the use of social media and texts etc are causing many to be offended, to take things personally or out of context. Sometimes just by the nature of our dementia and these things can become more problematic if we are fatigued, stressed, if our brains are tired, if any of our often many and varied health challenges are active. These create situations where we may not be processing things correctly, which means we feel and take things too personally, it cause stress and strive between people, we read more into a post think it’s directed at us, when clearly and often it may have little if anything to do with us, we may read more into a text than is actually there, we may overreact to a statement made. This not only causes stress for ourselves but the others, because they may not know how to bridge the gap of understanding because of their own processing abilities. This causes people to withdraw, drop friendships and not attend things that are actually import to their well being. So it is imperative, that we take the time to ask ourselves the important question of whether in fact we are part of the issue, and if our own ability to understand and process may have us taking things to personally and or over reacting. Often times taking a step back and knowing it’s ok to do that is important during those times, rather than react and then not know or have the capacity to figure out how to feel good about stepping back in and communicating with people, when we feel more able and less stressed. Having dementia at least until later stages does not exempt us from having to look at our own behaviour, pulling the “D” card is not OK, because if we make it ok for ourselves we make it ok for others.
Dementia creates so many varied day to day changes for us, we must keep in mind it creates the same for others. Offering kindness and understanding can go along way to stop the feelings of being picked on, having things directed at us, knowing sometimes people disconnect from us not because of anything we have done or not done but because they are taking a time out to look after their own well being for a time. So exhale, it is often not about us at all.
I hope that soon we will have the round table with all groups and organizations to do a full and complete collaboration and commitment to ensure we are all doing all we can in the way that will help all thrive.