I have written a lot about techniques for maintaining or even improving your quality of life while you have a neurodegenerative disease or another condition causing dementia.
Ok, if for some reason or the other, you find that you are living a pretty good life of pretty good quality because you have been learning cognitive and behavioral methods to cope, there are lots of other things you can do. What are you going to do with all of that time? Here are a few suggestions in the form of a mind map. Click the image to expand it.
The same mind map is shown as a presentation next. You can simply watch it with the automatic changing of slides or if you tap the pause button in the presentation you can use the right and left arrow keys to go through the slides at your own speed.
While you still can do things for yourself, you should try to minimize the burden your dementia places on your family caregivers and those hired to help. No unnecessary requests. Caregivers are there to help you with your care, not be a maid, servant, counselor, whipping post, target for frustration, psychotherapist, or camp director. If you can still do it, make your bed and your breakfast and schedule your day instead of expecting someone to do this for you while you watch the morning talk shows or endless reruns of I Love Lucy or Star Trek. Appreciate caregivers, value them, thank them, help them. Later you won’t be able to help so much but they will know that you have always tried to be as a little of a burden on them as was possible.
Get ready for the later stages of dementia. At the present time you cannot stop the progression of dementia although you can certainly prepare for things to finally get worse.
Take advantage of neuroplasticity, the way the brain will rewire itself if there is outside stimulation. Organize yourself better getting boxes of photos and other life memories together. Try to learn to do new things that will help you better deal with the later stages of dementia. You will be surprised to find how the simple step of improving your handwriting will improve your quality of life later as you become more and more dependent upon sticky notes to yourself and others. Try to be creative with art or music or just continue to use your time experiencing new movies, museums, and restaurants. Organizing, learning, being creative — all of these activities may help you help your brain to make itself adapted to working around your dementia, although it is quite likely that adaptation will not occur for many. But if not, you may still find some of these activities enjoyable and you will be giving your caregiver a break from being the cruise boat director so it is still a winning situation.
Use the “good” time you have now to make the upcoming “bad” times better. The dementia is not going to stop without new medications or other emerging new medical procedures, but you can change how you feel about your life and interact with others for the better. And, you can make the life of your caregivers better in the future by learning ways to “help yourself” now. Your daughter or partner or son or siblings never signed on to put their own lives on hold for you. Try to minimize the amount you will be forced to ask them to help by using time during the early stages of dementia to be more self sufficient later.
You can do this. A lot of it can be fun or a way of realizing that you can still do things after a diagnosis and you can still do many of them well and learn new things.
You can do this.