Dementia & Dignity
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Watching a senior loved one struggle with Alzheimer's or another type of dementia is heartbreaking for families. It's often referred to as "the long goodbye" because the disease slowly robs an adult of their ability to remain active and independent. For many family members, protecting their loved one's dignity becomes one of their main pressing concerns.
If this is a situation you find yourself in, we have some suggestions that might help guard against a loss of dignity and self-esteem as dementia progresses.
Those who didn't know the senior before their diagnosis, may appreciate learning more about them. Take a few minutes to tell caregivers, physicians, and other staff a little bit about your loved one. Share what they did for a living, and what their hobbies were, and who their family is. This allows people to see the person behind the disease.
Doing the same with family members, especially those they haven't seen in a while, provides a great opportunity for reminiscing. Research shows how beneficial it is to help people with a memory impairment connect with their memories.
When an adult with dementia has decreased verbal skills and difficulty with memory, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to carry on a conversation. Unintentionally, people they interact with might adopt a tone that feels patronizing or they may even resort to "baby talk." Both can be damaging to the senior's self-esteem. Remind family and visitors to talk in a normal voice, just a little slower.