Personal outlook is one of the factors that determines the quality of life of a person. Personal outlook means our thoughts about ourselves, our situation, and our relationship with our surroundings. How one perceives oneself influences the quality of their lives. A positive personal outlook improves the quality of life while a negative outlook might lead to further deterioration of the quality of life.
It is critical for building a dementia-friendly society that we are aware of the personal outlook expressed by persons with dementia. Several communities strive to change the societal views, in particular, social stigmas associated with dementia and persons with dementia. This gives rise to a mutually conflicting dilemma or the catch 22. The societal views of dementia and personal outlook are often intertwined and they influence each other. A breakthrough happens when individuals view themselves as self-sufficient or effective in their surroundings. Suddenly, the stigmas and misconceptions begin to disappear.
Until recently, the personal outlook for persons with dementia was poorly documented and understood. In 2010, the National Dementia Declaration for England (Dementia Action Alliance, 2010), seven outcome measures related to the personal outlook were identified. The top three were:
- I have personal choice and control or influence over decisions about me.
- I know that services are designed around me and my needs
- I have the support that helps me live my life.
- I have the knowledge and know-how to get what I need.
- I live in an enabling and supportive environment where I feel valued and understood.
- I have a sense of belonging and of being a valued part of family, community and civic life.
- I know there is research going on which delivers a better life for me now and hope for the future.
Like any other member of society, a person with dementia would like to make decisions about their daily activities. But often times, information is not available in an accessible format. For instance, often train fares are displayed in terms of ‘zones’ traveled. A rider needs to compute how many zones they are traveling and estimate the fare. For persons with dementia, it is more useful when estimates are clearly displayed and hence, fare estimators on the website are helpful. When information is freely available a person with dementia is able to make better decisions.
Apart from the availability of information, personal outlook is shaped by how often a person with dementia is included in making a decision about themselves. When care-givers such as families, friends, and health professionals, impose decisions on persons with dementia, it impacts negatively on their personal outlook. A three-step approach – provide information, discuss patiently pros & cons of the options available, and seek consent for a decision made – is suggested to improve the quality of life of persons with dementia.
The ability to access various services influences personal outlook. Persons with dementia find it easier to access various services when they are consistent and reliable. For example, some businesses consistently accept one form of payment such as a Visa or Mastercard credit card. A repeated change in payment form is frustrating for persons with dementia. Apart from consistent and reliable services, persons living with dementia find a responsive and respectful staff helpful. Hence, a dementia friendly community actively encourages businesses to conduct a dementia awareness staff training.
At AlzCare Labs, we design and develop innovative products that ultimately improve the personal outlook of persons with dementia. We maintain focus on supporting persons with dementia and their loved ones to lead a quality life.
For further information, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Green and Lakey 2013, Building dementia-friendly communities: A priority for everyone