Connect with strength, power and love to confront Alzheimer's

the elderly

Virginia Sinago, psychologist Osheimer Foundation

When we hear about Alzheimer's disease, the first thing that comes to mind is usually deterioration: change in memory, language, confusion… A person with Alzheimer's suffers from a gradual and continuous loss of his cognitive abilities and those around him witness how his loved ones transform as one's brain functions change. Inevitably, the most striking thing is the loss: everything that was there is now no longer there; Skills that were previously present are now diminished or absent. Including major changes in the way of being and in the role that has always been played within the family. Watching all of this produces pain, uncertainty, and anger. When we see gradual deterioration, it is easy and natural to allow ourselves to despair and become sad.

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However, when we work with people experiencing a neurodegenerative process such as that caused by Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, it is essential that we are able to shift perspective. The philosophy of cognitive stimulation programs is based on stimulating all the abilities that a person still retains. In other words, some areas may be changed and others may not, or there may be little change. The goal of these programs is to stimulate whatever is still preserved to try to slow the progression of deterioration as much as possible.

This philosophy is applicable and expandable in our general dealings with the person. In other words, he can serve as an example and inspiration for us when it comes down to it. The pain of loss is inevitable and natural, but if we make an effort in our daily lives to change our perspective on the person, we can begin to focus on all that is still vital. All life, strength, character, joy, desire to laugh and connect with the environment; Desire to give and receive affection. We can notice and become aware of deterioration (what is no longer there), but at the same time, we are able to focus attention and intervene on everything that is still there. Yes, it exists, and it pulsates within man.

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This change in perspective will greatly help the sick person, because we will give value and appreciation to everything that we want to stimulate, both in the cognitive sphere and the most emotional and basic part of it (everything that is real). Inevitably, this fact brings us closer to working with and from love, which will greatly help improve your mood and well-being, reducing the presence of anxiety, insomnia and sadness. Stopping focusing on the illness and the deterioration it causes and setting our sights on all the power and strength that still exists will allow us to put aside labels and judgments so we can truly see the person and strengthen our relationship with them.

In addition, it will contribute to improving the mental and emotional health of the caregiver (whether professional or informal). Focusing on everything that the sick person is still able to do forces us to make a change in our attitude: getting in touch with strength, vitality and essence means reversing this tendency to look at deficiency and what is missing. On the other hand, there is a very common tendency in life in general that easily drags us towards despair and helplessness.

This is not an easy exercise or a quick fix to problems. Rather, it is a continuous bet on what is vital and must be renewed again and again. To be able to observe with compassion the moments when sadness or impatience drags us down, so that we can rise again and connect with strength, power and love.

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