Do you have a loved one showing signs of Dementia? Struggling to cope? Aegis Living is proud to present this three part series of Aegis Brain Health Minutes featuring one of the world’s leading dementia educators, Teepa Snow, who speaks at Aegis Living communities. Teepa brings 35 years of her clinical dementia expertise and training strategies and shares some of her tips with our families and community caregivers.
“Right now across the nation, the scariest thing you can have is dementia, or Alzheimer’s, or Lewy body, or frontal temporal lobe dementia. This thing about, “I’m going to lose my mind,” is a scary proposition. And as long as we’re scared of it, we’re scared to look at it, we’re scared to listen about it, we’re scared to talk about it. Dementia is what cancer was 10, 15 years ago, where nobody wanted to talk about “the big C.” Now nobody wants to talk about “the big D.” And what I’d say is once we get on the other side of that, we can make progress. And until we get on the other side, we’re blocking our own progress. Because we think there’s going to be this little magic cure that’s going to take it all away, and the reality is it’s probably going to be awhile before we get anywhere near a cure for all dementias.
So, we have a lot of folks living with this condition, and we tend to think of it as us and them. But, the reality is with dementia we could be them. We won’t know for about 5 to 15 years in that we’ve had enough brain change that it is dementia, and there’s no turning back. So, my work is to help us see what they still have left. And let’s not see it as a line in the sand, let’s see it as it happens, and I can’t fix that. But, what I can figure out is once it starts happening, how do you still live life until life ends? And, part of that is how do I accept you into my life, and how do we help you accept that life is changing, and how do we find common ground? And, we can’t find common ground if I’m scared.
So, I’ve got to be curious enough to say, “Wow, looks like a freight train. Maybe I should step off the track and take a look at what’s going on here, and see if it’s going to pause here.” I’ll put my flag out and say, “I want a ride, because I volunteer.” The challenge for many families is you never volunteered for this, and it is a freight train, and it’s scaring you. And it’s like, well, there’s a stop here. You can get on and get off because you don’t have dementia. But, you’re losing somebody you care a lot to it. Do you want to be on the train with them for a while, or do you want them to travel all alone?
And, whether it’s a family member right now or in the future, right now what we know is one in five families is dealing with it. Within 10 or 15 years, it’s going to be 1 in 2 families. So, the idea that we’re going to avoid this condition is just really crazy, to be honest. It’s going to be everywhere. It already is. And, what we want to stop thinking is, it’s a monster. It’s hard, and I hate it. But, it’s just a condition that we live with till we die. So, what we want to do is figure out, how do we do this? Because I personally can’t make it go away, so I choose to be with people rather than to fight the disease. Because, I don’t know how to fight the disease that lives inside somebody. And, if I’m not careful, when I fight the disease it sounds like I don’t like you. And, that’s a very dangerous place to go.