Everyone will experience dementia in their own way. How it affects someone over time is unique to each individual – their attitude, relationships with others and surroundings that will all have an impact.
One question I get asked by people living with dementia is “Will I still get to make my own decisions?”.
Many people living with even the advanced stages of dementia CAN make decisions regarding their life- weighing up risks and choices when given the support, time and tools to enable them to make choices that are right for them.
How I address this is to look at and work with the person living with dementia and their loved ones around how they are managing right now – in this moment.
Many concerns come around safety, vulnerability and finance – especially the possibility of overspending, being swindled or being taken advantage of.
If you have a trusting relationship with your loved one and you are open to sharing concerns, talk about your concerns over these things, giving choice to be able to work together on things that may need support. If the relationship is not so good, then sometimes things have to be done in the background to ensure that things are in place to protect the best interests of the person living with dementia and their loved ones.
I am able to support you though this process and have plenty of information and tools that you can use to put both of your minds at rest regarding not only financial decisions, but life decisions as well. My motto – like the boy scouts is “be prepared”. Please contact me for more information.
My story around this is about a lovely lady living with dementia who was struggling in her own home. Her family were concerned around her vulnerability to being swindled from door to door salespeople and the like, and also around her general security as her ability to navigate her street and sometimes her own home was getting to the point where she was becoming disoriented and afraid.
Although the lady was extremely independent and had formal support in place a lot of the time, she had the ability to know that she was becoming anxious around being alone and often felt afraid of theft and her security. She did not want to leave her home for the fear of what residential care looked like in her mind and also that she would lose her friends and her independence.
Once we talked about her fears, her choices, her families concerns, what she wanted her life to look like and many other things, we decided all together with the final choice being made by the lady living with dementia that perhaps a “trial” of residential care may be good for her, and perhaps this would give her the opportunity to try out a few facilities of choice that the family had found that would suit their mums needs and interests.
This was a process that involved many hours of supporting the lady living with dementia, enabling her to express her feelings freely. It was not an easy time for anyone concerned. There were tears, arguments, mistrust, feelings of guilt and many other emotions prior to the admission to the facility, but the final decision was indeed hers to go ahead.
This was all orchestrated with love in our hearts at every step, so that the lady knew that we had her best interests at heart- she could trust us and if she wanted to return home, that was fine too.
Within 2 weeks of the lady trialing residential care, we could see that the her health had improved, that her conversations were more lively, and that she was having her spirit lifted with the many activities that she was joining in to and being part of. As well as this, we incorporated a visitors book as one of her main concerns was that no-one would visit her if she went into care.
After the 2 weeks, we again got together and discussed all of the pros and cons, her fears, what improvements needed to be made for her to stay and what her ideal life would look like in the future, and the decision was then made by the lady to move into residential care.
This is just a very brief account of what happened, but gives the answer to the question above – dementia does NOT take away your ability to choose.
Dementia may take away some of your strengths and abilities, but it won’t change who you are. With a positive outlook and the right support, it IS possible for someone living with dementia to live well and still get the best out of life by making decisions that are important to them and have these decisions adhered to and respected by others.
If you or your loved one are living with dementia, please contact me to see how I can support you.