We all perceive our lives in certain ways, form a certain point of reference, this is our subjectivity, it’s also a human right.
Acknowledging the uniqueness of individuals and the journey
Each of us as we know are unique in our own way. We have things in common that are associated with being human, but aside from that, our world view life perspective and experience of life will differ for all of us. We have our own complexities and expressions and this does not change with a diagnosis with dementia. People with dementia don’t suddenly become the same as each other, even with the commonality of a diagnosis of dementia. Not only because they are unique, but also because each type of dementia is unique in its effect on the brain and the persons life experience.
So why is it so important to acknowledge the uniqueness of ours and others journey of dementia?
If we don’t value the uniqueness of a person we miss the opportunity to truly support and understand them, it also interferes with our capacity for empathy. We can only be truly person centred when we are considering the uniqueness of the person. When we understand a person for who they truly are we can then better understand and empathise with their experience. When we do this we start to understand what that experience might be like and we can adjust ourselves and/or the environment when necessary to better support that person.
A holistic view of health and the person living with dementia– considering the whole of a person
When we consider the whole person, in a holistic person-centred way, we are considering their psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual / life perspective. A holistic approach to health and a person with dementia, that considers the whole of a person, can result in a greater sense of overall wellbeing and quality of life. It helps because the overall needs of a person are more likely to be considered in equal measure to each other.
We tend to place a lot of attention on the physical wellbeing of a person and look for potential risks associated with a physical state of being. We often make sure that basic needs are met with much focus and consideration toward physical needs and wellbeing, and this limited focus can often be to the detriment of the person living with dementia. However, as we know, we are much more than just our physical experience and the human experience of dementia can be felt and experienced on many levels.
It is vital to a person’s wellbeing and overall experience of life with dementia, that we take a holistic approach which considers the whole of who they are
The physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual / life perspective components all interact and can impact on each other. A balanced consideration of all can lead to higher levels of wellbeing and better health outcomes. For example, poor physical health can influence how we feel emotionally and psychologically. Our approach to poor health could also be influenced by our spiritual or world view. If there is risk also to one’s emotional psychological and spiritual needs, these should be considered to have great importance to the person’s whole experience of life and their journey living with dementia.
Uniqueness is not static, we are ever changing as we journey throughout life. Different circumstances and experiences can impact on us creating changes within and without us. The journey of Dementia can be one of those times, where the impact of a diagnosis and lived experience can alter and change us. It is these times of change where different expressions of the self might start to be experienced.
Misconceptions born from myths and stigmas associated with dementia can interfere the forming of real connections, these connections help to truly see the person and their experience. This impacts greatly on our capacity for empathy and appropriate holistic responses to a person’s potential needs
If we are only focusing on one area of the whole person we are likely to miss important information about that person that could alter the way we understand them and their experience. It also limits how we might respond to and support them. By broadening our focus we alter the potential to truly understand a person’s experience and respond more holistically thus supporting the enhancement of overall wellbeing.
We can survive if our physical health is maintained but we thrive when the other parts of who we are, are nurtured, considered and responded to.