Keeping your Essence in spite of Dementia

Essence is the attribute or set of attributes that makes an entity what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity… without it, it loses its identity.

Someone’s personality and spiritual sense are basic elements of his or her essence. When a person is diagnosed with a cognitive condition, many fear that he or she will lose those qualities that build who they are. Maintaining their spirituality and personhood in dementia takes an effort from both patient and his or her family.

As the person’s memory starts to fade, there are clear moments of lucidity that lets you see their true self, even at the moments of confusion you will see their character trying to make sense of that strange moment. It is important to keep a clear vision that the person’s dementia will not affect their identity; the great significance of their spiritual sense gives them a high resource for coping with the diagnosis and disease management.

Dementia is not what identifies the person living with it. The people closely surrounding this person must help maintain the dignity that encloses their loved one’s significance. And exactly how can those close to a person with dementia help them flourish? How to enable them to thrive? These are questions that come to the mind of many caregivers who feel like it is almost impossible to empower someone living with this condition.

Many Alzheimer’s specialists agree that any caregiver can follow a “patient-centered” care that looks to facilitate opportunities for spirituality and personhood in dementia to blossom. This philosophy calls to shatter any preconceived notion of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality in caregiving. It is emancipation from the traditional approach to a holistic point of view in caregiving.

In a patient-centered care, as the phrase already explains it, is taking the patient’s own traditions, culture and way of life into the caregiving practice. It is about enhancing all that throughout their life has helped them build their personality and spirituality. Putting the person with dementia at the center of the care plan can create a comfortable environment for him or her and while they are at ease, the caregiving tasks get a little easier for the caregiver.

It demands time and interest from the caregiver to deeply know or get to know the patient; this however, promotes the harvest of positive outcomes. According to Romina Oliverio, a dementia and caregiving consultant, “the patient-centered approach creates a whole picture that is a foundation for the relationship between the patient and the caregiver”.

Trust plays a big role in achieving any goal set at the initial diagnosis, and should be treated as a treasure once the caregiver has achieved it. In the end what matters is to remember that a person’s essence is still there and can maintain the spirituality and personhood in dementia.

Related Read:

The DMS Podcast: Patient-centered Care with Romina Oliverio

D is for Dignity in Dementia Care