So you have dementia or cognitive impairment. Instructions are confusing. You don’t always hear correctly or understand what people are saying to you. Instructions for putting together a young child’s toys at the holidays or a birthday drive you crazy. You cannot figure out how to get from where you are now to where you want to be by bus, foot, car, or plane.
There are a few phrases you should know and not be embarrassed to use. Some require you disclose your health problems, others do not. There are some dangers in disclosing your health status (increased probability of being scammed or ignored or or victimized or stigmatized) so before using alternatives that require disclosure think about the pros and cons quite carefully and also discuss this with your doctor, caregivers, and family members. I AM NOT RECOMMENDING YOU DISCLOSE YOUR HEALTH STATUS AND I THINK THAT THIS MIGHT BE AN EXTREMELY POOR CHOICE FOR MANY MUCH OF THE TIME. If you do feel that you need to disclose your health status to get the help you need, a doctor or nurse or law enforcement officer might be a better choice than a random stranger.
Ask for help. Don’t let your embarrassment put a wall between you and those would be more than willing to help you. Remember that if 1 person is too busy or not otherwise inclined to help you, there are 7.3 billion others on the planet to ask. And virtually all will make whatever efforts they can to help you.
I have received help in Jerusalem at the Kotel (Western or “Wailing” Wall) from a rabbi who helped me get a taxi at midnight, an Imam on Temple Mount who discussed with our family the Dome of the Rock and gave an introduction to Temple Mount, his son who was the Chair of Islamic Studies at UCLA, American college basketball, and coming to the USA to play golf in Arizona. Many in France, Spain, and Israel have endured my inability now to be able to learn and remember even the most simple and common of the words in their languages and struggled with English for my sake in order to help me. Many in more US states than I can remember have run after me with items I have left behind, and watching television my son endures my repeated questions about rules, statistics, and players I once knew as well as he does now.
Ask for help when you need it and when you can, provide it to others.