Personal choices are seemingly small daily decisions – what do I want to eat today, what style statement will I make today, what books will I read tonight and so on. We cherish an environment that allows us to make personal choices. Persons with dementia are no different. When persons with dementia have a personal choice and control and influence over decisions about themselves, it improves their personal outlook and their emotional health.
Surveys reports that persons with dementia do not like being patronized, or infantilized, by their caregivers, family, and friends. Persons with dementia are often not presented with options they have and decisions are made for them by their caregivers or other professionals. It could happen due to a variety of reasons from ignorance to their caregiver’s fatigue.
There is a need to raise awareness about the capacity of a person with dementia to make personal choices. When a person receives a diagnosis in the early stages of dementia (or a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairments), the opportunity to make a personal choice whether to discuss the diagnosis with their employers, or friends must be extended to them. Furthermore, persons with dementia need an opportunity to influence their daily lives by an active participation in that decision making.
A diagnosis of dementia may feel devastating but an effort can be made to keep life as normal as possible for people with dementia. Family and friends can continue to encourage a person with dementia to make informed choices about their day to day lives – how they want to spend their time, where would they like to go, and so on. Asking a simple question “What do you want?” is perhaps the nicest thing to do. Some caregivers encourage their carepartner to “write things down”, so that it serves as a memory prompt when the decision making moment arrives. Some caregivers present the possible options and ask their care partner to prioritize the list.
Policy makers and governmental agencies are increasingly involving persons with dementia in making decisions while building dementia-friendly communities. The volunteer organizations include persons with dementia as dementia-friendly services are designed. While designing a service, it is important to know that the views of caregivers and persons with dementia about a particular service may not be aligned. Hence, having discussions in a separate space may provide a complete picture. For instance, the caregiver is happy with the meals provided at the adult daycare center but person with dementia may need more vegan options.
In some dementia-friendly communities, volunteers make an active effort to deliver food or offer meals for persons with dementia at their locations. For persons with dementia, who may or may not able to cook, it provides flexibility and allows them to choose meals that can meet personal preferences and requirements. As the awareness regarding personal choice increases, the quality of life for people with dementia will continue to improve.
At Alzcare labs, we encourage persons with dementia to make personal choices everyday. We are committed to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and are developing various technologies for the same. To find out more about our values, email us at email@example.com