When we talk about the "C-word" (cancer), or the "D-word" (Dementia), it often seems difficult to include the concept of HOPE within our conversations.
Both conditions, while very different, take a similarly tremendous physical and mental toll, both on the individual and the family. Yet, the psychological benefits of hope can go a long way. Hope can improve our mood, outlook, and the way we partner with a person living with Dementia.
According to a 2010 study, the same is true for cancer patients. In the study, women with breast cancer demonstrated that hope is an essential factor for coping and reducing the psychological distress of cancer treatment. The research shows that lower levels of hope were tied to the patient’s lower satisfaction with life. It also showed that hope intervenes and reconciles the relationship between distress and health status. In other words, the association between anxiety and disease was no longer as significant with hope at their side. Hope created an opportunity to look at the situation through a more hopeful lens, in the same way in which we talk about a glass of water being half full or half empty. It all depends on you.
Having hope at your side is extremely valuable when dealing with Dementia, as well. As advocates and educators, we are poised to help individuals, families, and medical professionals become “Dementia-aware.” In doing so, these newly educated advocates can provide the kind of compassionate and fulfilling care a person living with Dementia needs and caregiver desires.
As we become more Dementia-aware, we experience more reasons for hope and find that nuggets of inspiration are all around us if we look. When we present our talks and workshops across the country, there's no need to hammer the point that Dementia is stubborn and progressive. We get that. But instead, we focus on the simple steps that each of us can aspire to ascend: we can rise to the occasion; we can change our outlook; we can alter our perspective to discover the smallest day-to-day accomplishments ... and therefore, celebrate!
When we do, we might just experience the joy and happiness that we had lacked in our journey up until that moment. That’s the goal: unlocking our abilities to make meaningful connections and uplifting moments, by approaching Dementia in a new light. As we do, we can discover greater hope within ourselves and create new hope with others!
Contributors: Laura Wayman, “The Dementia Whisperer,” an internationally recognized Dementia care expert who offers professional caregiver training services to providers and families, along with Kevin Jameson, DrHC.
The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of the content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society of America does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.