Dementia – A Whole New Life

Today we learned about dementia, a terrible disease that mostly older people suffer from.
I really find it a horrible disease, although our teacher told us that there are good sides about it too.
For example: persons who have been rather moody, mean and anti-social can end up being warm, sweet, caring.
This is possible because often one’s character changes completely.
People that were very peaceful, quiet can change to loud and aggressive.

As most people will know, you lose a part of your memory.
Your life is like a film roll that someone’s rolling back up.
It’s like a drawn line that you’re erasing.
The part that you erased on paper, also gets erased from your memory.
Forever.

Which causes people to forget their husband/wife, since they simply don’t remember ever marrying or even meeting them.
This can be quite painful for the husband/wife of the patient.
They can also see their daughter/son as their wife/husband, since they are so alike with how their mom/dad used to look when they were younger.

Actually, the people suffering from dementia are going back in time.
Erasing the rest.

That’s why often, if they don’t die because of other things like heart failure, cancer, a bad cold, …
They die in fetal position, like a baby in the womb.
They’ve reached the end of the line.
Also, their muscles are so tighten up that they are almost automatically drawn into this position.

Also, they often don’t recognize their reflection in the mirror, since in their head they’re always looking younger, different than they actually do.
They live in the past.

I asked my teacher what you’re supposed to do if suddenly an old woman in the home, suffering from dementia, asks you where her husband (who died 20 years ago) is.
Should you tell her once more that her husband isn’t alive anymore?
That he’s not coming back?
Or do you just go with her fantasy?
Leave her the illusion?

She told me that you best either distract her, or even better: let her talk about her husband.
If you must, you can for example tell her that her husband is out doing groceries, until she forgets again.

But you NEVER,EVER tell her the painful truth again.
Simply because she wouldn’t believe you.
All she knows in that moment is that her husband is alive, she just doesn’t know where he is.
There’s no use in arguing with her, because she doesn’t know better.

Also, they forget things they’ve learned.
Manners for example.
You can easily see a person suffering from dementia standing in the hallway, masturbating.
Or undressing themselves.
They don’t know better.
They don’t know it’s not socially accepted.

They also forget how to eat, or even talk…
They actually become a little child again.

I found it a really fascinating and sad lesson.
Although I really loved and appreciated all the beautiful stories about the good sides as well.
What I find sad however is that in the beginning, the patients almost always realize what’s going on.
They either know that they’re suffering from dementia, or that there’s something terribly wrong.
They don’t feel right.
That’s the hardest part of the disease: the realization in the beginning.

One of the beautiful stories I heard today was about a father who had always been rather grumpy, mean, severe and emotionally distanced.
He never hugged or said that he loved his children.
Then he got dementia.
He completely changed.
And now whenever his children come visit him in the home, they get a warm welcome and he hugs them as if it’s the first time he sees them.

So finally, at last, he can end his life by leaving these last beautiful , treasured moments with his children.
That’s something his children will never forget and treasure.

Because there’s no cure for dementia, 
there is medication which only delays the symptoms.

So no matter how you choose to look at it, dementia is always saying goodbye,
little by little.
All you can do is make the best of a very hard and tough situation, 
and make beautiful memories that you’ll always cherish.

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La Vita è Bella

Today in class, in the afternoon we learned about poor families, and how to deal with them when we have to work there.
We were supposed to have social skills but our teacher was sick.
Even though I was very, very tired, I really enjoyed this special class.
I pretty much like every course that we have, and even if I don’t like the subject , the teachers are great.
They really all are very sweet and caring.
Real nice people.

I really feel like this is where I belong.
I know it’s been only a week but still.
I feel like I’ve made the right choice. Finally.
I just hope my exams and internship will show that as well.
I don’t know if I could handle the disappointment if I’d fail again.

Luckily, my boyfriend is being super supportive and sweet.
He’s such a dear.
Every day when I come home in the evening with a massive headache (I’m in a class with 24 persons. 22 females… Can you imagine the noise?), he’s right there to give me a hug, soothe me and take care of me.
So sweet.
I’m really lucky to have him. 
I fully realize that.
We’re both lucky to have each other.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.
The half of the class is going to visit a school for children with a mental handicap.
I’m in that group.
So I get to sleep longer and get to be home about two hours earlier.
In the evening , I’m going over to my boyfriend’s where I’ll have dinner with him and his family, like I do every Tuesday.
It’s kind of a tradition.
And since everyone in Belgium has a day off on the first of May (this Wednesday) I get to go to his practice again and stay with him until late.
Then on Wednesday, we’ll be together again all day.
I’m so looking forward to it!

Hope you’ll all have a lovely day tomorrow as well!

Yes, life sure can be beautiful…

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Future Dreams

I want to have children someday.
I know that now more than ever.
I’ve been a babysit ever since I was seventeen years old, which means I’ve been babysitting for about four years now.
When I was little, one of my dreams was to become a kindergarten teacher.
I love children. Love them.
I’m a very beloved babysit as well.

I’m babysitting as I’m writing this as well.
A few minutes ago, I heard a loud bang upstairs.
I immediately ran up the stairs.
Apparently, the oldest one of the two little children had fallen out of his bed.
He has a net above his bed, wrapped around his bed.
Hanging by a hook in the ceiling, and apparently he had had a bad dream or such because when I arrived the net was down and the little boy was tangled in the net.
Of course he was crying, so the first minutes I just held him close to me, swaying him softly.

It felt so good.
It always feels so good when children adapt to you
Even though I’ve been babysitting here a couple of times, the children never saw me, because they’re always in bed when I arrive.
And still, this little boy completely trusted me right away.
He didn’t cry because he saw a stranger.
Or because he was held close by someone he had never seen before, even though I would be surprised at least when suddenly when I’d wake up from a bad dream that there’d be a stranger holding me.

Not these children.
They trust me.
Get soothed by my touch.
My voice.

Children… they are so loving.

I know I’m still young, and I know that my boyfriend and I haven’t been together THAT long but still…
I can just imagine what our children would look like.A daughter with my long golden blonde hair and his green-brown-blue-gray eyes.
A boy with his dark black hair and my blue eyes.
Other combinations.
They would be beautiful no matter what combination they’d have.

I can’t wait to live on my own , most of all I’d love to live together with my love.
And someday have our own house.
And hopefully, children.

 Who knows.
A girl can dream, right?

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