Dementia and Memorial Day
Memorial Day Gives Us A New Way To Attack Dementia
Memorial Day is a special holiday where we honor those who have died serving our country. Like many holidays, it has become commercialized. One that kicks off the summer season and is highlighted in the titles of sales events. I would like to see us get back to the basic of this holiday and in addition, use it as a tool to aid us as a country when dealing with dementia epidemic.
Our soldiers deserve our greatest respect and support as do those diagnosed with a dementia. This is a disease which we have no control over and for all practical purposes is unavoidable since we do not know the cause. Preventative measures are for the most part a guess. They lean towards a healthy lifestyle in general but with no great proof these changes in lifestyle will help. Just ask those who have lived their lives engaging their minds, exercising, eating healthy and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Bottom line people with dementia do not sign up for the disease, nor are they recruited. They are kidnapped in the middle of the night with no warning. Their brains held captive in an enemy camp, an unknown world with no idea of what is in store for them from moment to moment. The pain and isolation they feel is never ending and their life will never be the same.
How Can The Memorial Day Holiday Help the Dementia Epidemic?
Keep in mind it is my belief Memorial Day and Memorial Weekend, have always been a time for the public to reflect, to be grateful and to show our deepest appreciation to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their life to serve our country. Many of those with dementia have been people who have served with those that have lost their lives. These memories of service to our country are most likely deeply rooted in their memories. Others have taken great pride in honoring those that have protected and served our country.
Many of us, go out to the cemeteries and place flowers or flags at grave sites in remembrance of their heroic efforts. Others celebrate this holiday gathering with friends and loved ones to raise our flags and for some a glass in honor of those who have served. I would like to add a third idea to the mix for those dealing with dementia. I would like to recommend that we take the primary principles of celebrating and honoring our military heroes on Memorial Day, and adapt it to everyday life with dementia.
Be Grateful for what we still have today as well as what we have had in our life time,
Show Our Deepest Appreciation and love for those diagnosed with the disease
and add one more important element – Acceptance
I have found without adding the last piece of acceptance, the other three can be for most a temporary moment in time. One that doesn’t change the way we live our life. I believe by taking these four concepts seriously and actually changing the way we look at our world we have the ability to live life in a rich and full fashion. One that values what we have in our life. One that looks for the joy in the simplest of fashions. One which teaches us to create remarkable moments of engagement and to relish the relationships in our life.
By adopting this life philosophy, you will be amazed at the stress that drops from your life. I know, as this is the way I have chosen to live my own life. I’m not saying I’m perfect at it but I am getting better ever day at releasing so much that I used to worry about… So much I had no control over. I chose to live in the moment and Reflect, Be Grateful, Show Appreciation and Accept Things For What They Are. My life feels realigned and balanced. A peacefulness which I thought I had lost has come back into play. I recommend everyone try this and just see what happens.
Imagine what life could be like, if as a country we chose to attack the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Epidemic in this fashion. One which costs us nothing but to switch our mindset. In doing so, it would also slow us down to appreciate what is before us. This philosophy could encourage positive engagement and help alleviate unwanted reactions; or behaviors as we like to call them. One that would give both sides purpose. One which would help researchers identify what the heck the actual symptoms of this disease are by removing environmental impacts of stigma and isolation.
I for one dream of a day the world decides to join me in this mindset.
Imagine if this expanded to how we see the world in general. To everything we think, do and say.
What would our world look like then?
Are You With Me On this?
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
I am a member of AARP’s blogger kitchen cabinet on caregiving issues. All opinions are my own.
Visit the AARP Caregiving Resource Center for help and more information at aarp.org/caregiving.
check out Alzheimer’s Speaks for additional resources on Dementia and Caregiving