|How to Help People with Dementia Improve|
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Change your focus – Change your experience
“Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right!”
If we are to assist people with dementia to improve, we need to believe that improvement is possible. The first step to achieving this is to change our belief from: dementia is an irreversible degenerative disease without a cure, to one that says; dementia is simply a disability of certain parts of the brain.
To understand the power of this statement, we introduce you to the fascinating communication tool known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is a way of understanding how we use language to program our brain. Let’s take the present day belief about dementia being an irreversible degenerative disease without a cure. If we accept these powerful words at face value, they program us at a subconscious level. Without being aware of it, they condition our minds to a very narrow view of the prognosis for the person with dementia.
If these words become our belief, improvement will not be the first thought that comes to mind when we think of dementia. Instead these words will automatically condition us to believe something like; The disease is taking hold of the person and dragging him or her downhill; no matter what I do or how much I try, the disease will have its ‘own way’ and I can’t do anything about it.
How our focus determines the experience
NLP helps us understand how we process the information that comes into our brains and how we create a simplified version of our experiences in our minds. NLP shows that the simplified version we may accept is not necessarily an accurate reflection of the actual experience, and is largely determined by what we focus on.
Imagine a bus crowded with passengers who all board at the same stop and are making exactly the same trip. Each will have a different experience determined by what is important to them. In other words, by what they focus on.
When the bus arrives at the stop with the hotel on one corner and petrol station on the other, quite coincidentally, all three of the above passengers get off.
Although each of them has travelled on exactly the same bus, on the same route, at the same time – each of them will have had a very different experience.
What they will remember afterwards will be their personal, simplified version of the trip – determined by what they were focusing on during the ride.
So it is with everything we do – our focus determines our experience.
Inspiration from another field
When experts work with people who have a physical disability, they use a two-pronged positive approach. Firstly, they work on improving the functions that the disability affects to the highest possible level; then they shift the focus to strengthen every other function and resource that the person has to compensate for the areas that no longer work to their full capacity. They adopt a positive mindset by thinking that:
“Disability” means “Possibility”
We need to apply this same principle to dementia.
We hope that this article may serve as a catalyst for all to experience the joys of helping people with dementia grow and become proactive in a community where we foster a new focus on health and wellness and the belief that improvement is possible!
Further reading – Click topic
Aging with Grace – The Nun Study – Book – David Snowdon Ph. D., Bantam Books 2001 USA (Not availbale from Dementia Care Australia) Click here to visit Amazon.com
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