PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Is the Glass Half Full?

Susan McCauly shares some perspective on how language affects how we deal with and see Alzheimer's.

She shares a wonderful look at Alzheimer's which begins to see the good parts of a person that continue as the disease progresses rather than listing the stages of loss and inability. I have found that in my readings, web searches, fellow bloger posts, etc., this change in focus is becoming stronger. What do you think?

"Amazing Susan" says: To help us understand dementia, experts have come up with ways of describing different phases of the disease:

1) The Alzheimer’s Scale (3 stages): mild, moderate, late.
2) Four-Stage Model (4 stages): early, middle, late, end-of-life.
3) Global deterioration (7 stages): no impairment, very mild decline, 
mild decline, moderate decline, moderately severe decline, severe 
decline, and very severe decline. (Keep those sorted one from the other 
if you can!)

These scales and descriptors focus decline and loss rather than on the richness of the human experience.

At best, they set us up to see the glass half empty rather than half full; at worst they foster the belief that people with dementia are on a journey that is nothing more than a long slow, tortuous train through hell – a journey in which they are robbed of their very selves as they disappear into a black hole of oblivion.

This overwhelmingly negative perspective is an injustice to people who have dementia, and is problematic in all kinds of other ways. Among them:
  • It goes hand-in-hand with the traditional biomedical model of the disease, which in itself creates a multitude of care issues.

  • It results in people treating people with dementia in demeaning and unhelpful ways.

  • It causes family, friends, and caregivers to suffer more loss, pain and grief than they need to.
No wonder we are all so terrified of this “horrible” disease!
But it doesn’t have to be like this. I know because I have discovered 
treasures amidst the tragedy.

One simple way to transform the way we see the disease and the people who have it is to use a positive approach centered on people’s humanity and on what they can do rather than on what they can’t.

Go to Susan's site to check out Tepia Snow's look at the gem approach to talking about Alzheimer's Disease.  

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