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17 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Have Dementia

17 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Have Dementia

Many people mistake dementia as a disease and as a natural consequence of getting older when it is actually the result of damage to brain cells that affect memory. Dementia affects 47.5 million people today and there is no cure for this syndrome.

Even though Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, many forms of dementia are a result of injury or stroke. Consequently, dementia is not always progressive and can have an immediate impact on families and friends who aren’t prepared.

For many who have dementia, they face unfair criticism because there’s no test to determine if one has this syndrome. Not surprisingly, people who have dementia can be incredibly confused about why they are having memory problems.

The good news: doctors can determine whether a person has dementia with a high degree of confidence. Still, we must stay vigilant to not criticize or condemn others when they forget things because the truth is we don’t know the cause until it’s identified.

And if you can remember these seventeen things, you’ll have a better understanding of the challenges your loved one with dementia experiences:

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1. They will lose their sense of direction

People with dementia have a tendency to lose their sense of direction. It can start with forgetting particular landmarks that once helped them navigate their neighborhood. As a result, you should help them by making lists of where they like to go with detailed and visual instructions.

2. They will lose track of where they keep things

“I can’t remember where I put my keys!” From the smallest things that fit in our pocket to the bigger possessions in our lives like cars, forgetting them can’t take a tremendous mental and often physical toll on people with dementia.

3. They will repeat themselves

“I heard that story yesterday.” People with dementia forget many of the things they say, especially stories. Be careful not to interrupt them and belittle their enthusiasm to tell a story you’ve heard for the tenth time. Instead, ask different questions each time they’re deep in storytelling so the story will take on a new life.

4. They will find difficulty in doing simple tasks

From balancing a checkbook to playing poker, simple tasks will begin to seem more complicated to them. As a result, they may get frustrated with the task and even at others. Don’t let their mood affect yours and remain motivated and willing to help them.

5. They won’t always follow a storyline

Not only will people with dementia repeat stories, but they may leave out huge pieces of the stories they tell. From forgetting particular words to being unable to follow a T.V. show storyline, these are classic warning signs to look out for.

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6. They can lack empathy

Having dementia can be a burden on your confidence, adventure, and emotional well-being. Consequently, people with dementia may stop going out and participating in their regular hobbies and activities. I suggest trying your best to excite them about having fun because depression makes having dementia much worse.

7. They can become angry quickly

Sudden anger outbursts, depression, and heightened hysteria are all signs of dementia. Also, it’s not always just a one-time thing, you may see a complete change in personality because when memory is affected, judgment is too.

8. They will find themselves confused

When it’s difficult to remember friends, family, and faces, people with dementia can experience overwhelming confusion. Moreover, when they try to fix the issue by explaining their point of view, they often can’t find the right words; this exacerbates the problem. Stay kind and comforting while they go through periods of disorientation.

9. They will struggle to adapt to change

Imagine being told you have dementia. Many people would react with fear and shock. Having dementia means you need to take precautionary steps to prepare for increasing symptoms. Adventurous and independent people may see these steps as irrational and as obstacles to living their normal lives.

10. They won’t always remember they love you

This is one of the hardest characteristics of dementia that affects loved ones. Having sparent, grandparents, or siblings forget who you are can be extremely tough to bear. You have to remember that it’s not them, but the symptoms of dementia. Deep down inside they will always love you.

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11. They need friendship more than ever

People with dementia can feel isolated because it’s hard to prepare for worsening symptoms, and they may perceive that they’re going through this “journey” alone. Make sure they have constant reminders that you’re there for them and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

12. They are just as uncertain about the future as you are

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or in your late seventies, all of us are uncertain about what the future holds in terms of accomplishing our goals. It’s important we realize that many people with dementia have dreams they still want to achieve, too. Moreover, we should try to help them achieve these dreams before they get discouraged.

13. They are part of the nearly 7.7 million worldwide new cases of dementia each year

In other words, one new case happens every four seconds. This doesn’t mean that people with dementia are just a statistic. What this means is that dementia is a common struggle that millions of people go through. As a result, it’s important to reach out for help and advice from those who have gone through the same struggle.

14. They may not recognize the same sounds as they are used to

The music your loved one once adored now disturbs them, or they’ve suddenly taken an interest in jazz. Finding the right music for someone with dementia can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. The upside is that once you find something that attracts their taste, you’ll more than likely put a smile on their face.

15. They are not carrying a disease

People often confuse dementia as a natural disease that people receive as they age. However, dementia is not natural and not something someone else can give you — it’s just a syndrome. We should strive to educate others about dementia, so they are not scared to help.

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16. They may have problems moving

People with dementia can find themselves in prolonged states of immobility. When someone’s confused and struggles to adapt to change, they become fearful; as a result, they decide keep to themselves. What they need is for their loved ones to guide them and help them embrace life no matter how small the baby steps are.

17. They need your encouragement

This sounds obvious, but encouragement is not something that’s always built strong within people, especially after years of helping a loved one with dementia. It can be a huge boulder to carry, so make sure to reach out to those currently caring for someone with dementia.

The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75.6 million in 2030, so we must come to terms with it. Even though we can’t prevent dementia, we can still improve our memory. Keeping an active mind, staying away from medication with adverse side effects, not excessively drinking, a good sleep schedule, and maintaining a healthy diet are just a few ways to keep your memory sharp.

Moreover, stay open-minded and if you see someone acting strange, remember that an early diagnosis can help those with dementia tremendously by helping them prepare for the future.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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