Dementia steals memory, but it also steals pleasure and meaning from relationships and activities of daily life. For example, a golfer might find himself unable to remember the rules of golf, which ends his weekly golf game with his friends, causing social isolation, then loneliness and boredom. An busy grandmother might find herself unable to remember how to use the stove, which ends cooking for her family, denying her the pleasure of cooking and the meaningful activity of caring for others.
So often individuals and their caregivers ask me how to deal with the loneliness and boredom of dementia. They try to get involved in volunteering or exercise but find they are not able to participate in many activities due to their memory loss, and they become frustrated and discouraged. Caregivers are frustrated because they are trying to balance independence (driving, cooking, etc) with safety (getting lost, leaving stove on, etc).
Happily, there is a new nonprofit organization in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area which seeks to remedy this problem. Guiding Lights* has launched a new program called “Awakening”** which creates an individualized action plan to improve activity level, pleasure, and sense of meaning for an individual with memory loss. The consultation with Julie is free and held at the Guiding Lights office, which is a wonderful resource for anyone dealing with memory loss or dementia. Check it out and let me know what you think!
* For more information, see www.guidinglightsnc.org or contact Executive Director Nicole Bruno 919-371-2062
** For more information, see www.guidinglightsnc.org/GuidingLights/Awakening.html or contact Julie Falconer, RN 919-371-2062