“There is just such silence. If you turn on the TV or radio, it just forces more silence. Reflects Mary Lee Fulkerson, an expert on the lived experience of dementia in Nevada, about her experience with the pandemic. "I don't interact well with this. I'm depressed watching the news, so I have stopped looking at them I can't help I can't do anything which is horrible because I've always done things.
Mary's experience echoes the helplessness and loneliness of this time of pandemic. “I've always been in protests and written letters to the editor and campaigned for human rights and it's all gone, I can't do that… And that makes it lonelier, a new awareness of what is impossible. It's just the stillness that I think I can just feel my brain not engaging. I can just feel it. I can feel the weight in there.
This pandemic has separated us all from each other. Forced physical distancing increases isolation. As the world grapples with this, there is a group of people with more experience than most that we can learn from. People with dementia.
Nevada CAN Establishes Reciprocal Relationships
There is a tendency to separate and separate people with dementia from mainstream society. For this reason, many people with dementia have already mastered the challenges that are currently placed on us, unfortunately we practice physical distancing. The NEST collaborative, part of the Nevada COVID-19 Aging Network (Nevada CAN), a quick response, builds on this wisdom while providing support services. They put elders in touch with young volunteers in reciprocal relationships. The Dementia Engagement, Education and Research (DEER) program at the University of Nevada, Reno provides a foundation for this statewide effort, supported by more than 30 aging and social service organizations.
“The NEST Collaborative aims to tackle loneliness by providing free virtual social support opportunities hosted by volunteers,” explains DEER program director Dr. Jennifer Carson. “We keep the same volunteers with the same elders over time in an effort to foster authentic relationships and trust. It's not just about what our volunteers can do for seniors, but what seniors can do for our volunteers and for each other!
The emphasis on reciprocity in The NEST Collaborative comes from a deep belief in the value of dementia. Dr. Carson and her partners believe that dementia offers wisdom on how to live well at all times in life. It becomes even more poignant during a pandemic.
NEST is an acronym for Nevada Assures Support Together, and at the root of this collaborative effort is a commitment to build reciprocal relationships and support the important roles that seniors play in their communities. It started with the creation of the Nevada CAN website and the development of the NEST collaborative programs. Dr. Jennifer Carson and her partners have sought advice from self-advocates, people with dementia who stand up for themselves and others. This board ensures that resources are accessible, inclusive and engaging. Stay true to the “nothing about us, without us” tribute. The NEST Collaborative promotes mutual support through this pandemic and beyond.
“The way Jennifer did Nevada CAN, I think it's going to be something that continues… this bridge that everyone has a story to tell and all you have to do is listen to them. Says Chuck McClatchey, one of the dementia experts with whom Dr. Carson has worked.
“Over the years, people with dementia have taught me a lot about how to live meaningful life focused on the present and relationships,” shares Dr. Carson. “They influenced my journey to become more human being than a human Make. The NEST Collaborative provides an opportunity for our volunteers to also tap into the rich resource provided by alumni. They have a lot of life experience to share, including wisdom on how to live well in the face of adversity.
Dementia can help us during this pandemic
Throughout the pandemic, things we all took for granted have been removed. This experience, unfortunately, is something people with dementia are all too familiar with. “Everything that happens to a person with dementia is multiplied by ten for a normal person, because we already have a lot of anxiety and frustration, fear and anger, all these different emotions. Chuck shares. “Then when something more is taken away from you where you don't have the freedom, you can't just go to the store or enjoy a walk in the mall or even go to dinner, we can't do that. It was much more difficult. "
Systemic isolation and discrimination accentuate the effects of the pandemic on people with dementia. The other side of the coin? People with dementia have more experience with what we all face today. If we choose to listen and engage in reciprocal relationships, like the ones NEST Collaborative and other like-minded organizations are forging, we can all live a little better in these difficult times.
“Okay, I want to do this. How can I do this? "
The 2020 we've all been planning for is a fantasy that will never come true. This experience, of a planned future that will never be, is common with a diagnosis of dementia. “I was only 61, when I was diagnosed, I thought I still had years and years to work and then retire and play and this and that. When all of that is taken away from you, you kind of have to rebuild yourself.
After the diagnosis, Chuck focused on what was possible. “You have to have the 'okay I want to do this, how can I do that' mentality and not the 'well, I really shouldn't be doing this, so I won't' mentality. I think that same mentality can help people go through this now. You don't want to hurt anyone or spread the virus or anything like that, but if you take that attitude, you'll be more receptive. "
The bottom line? Rather than focusing on what you can't do, focus on how you can still do what you want. For example, you want to see your family and you can't in person, but you can Zoom. "It really makes you understand the importance of being able to do the things you want to do and what happens when those things are taken from you, which people with dementia face every day." explains Chuck.
Not only can we improve our quality of life with this perspective, but we can also increase our empathy for people with dementia. "He [the pandemic] gives a little idea of why we [people living with dementia] sometimes react like we do, "Chuck shares," you know with, sometimes it's anger and frustration and people don't realize what it is. You have a taste of fear with everything pandemic related right now.
Be here now
The future is extremely uncertain, focusing on this can send even the most entrenched person into a spiral of anxiety. Focusing on the moment, what's here, and what's possible provides relief from worry. “I took a long walk this morning. When you have dementia, you can't think of the past. Well, you can, but there's not much left and it's getting smaller. And then the future is, with this pandemic and everything, there's no control over the future and so you're here. I'm right here with you, ”shares Mary Lee Fulkerson, another consultant for Nevada CAN and The NEST Collaborative.
In addition to focusing on what we can do, Mary teaches us how dementia has changed the way she sees the world. And how that helps now. “I notice that when I go for a walk I listen to this wind blowing through the leaves of the trees and the leaves are so beautiful green and the flowers and the little birds are squealing. And I think how somebody could put these things [points to ears to indicate headphones] while they are walking because it is so beautiful there. It has been good for me… There is a pleasure and a wealth that you do not get otherwise, I have never done this before [living with dementia]… This is major. I wish I could have had it and then go back to the way it was because I would probably enjoy the things people do more and everything, that's great… Nature never stops, the rest of our lives have done it but nature never stops.
What does it mean to age gracefully ? You can’t stand in a checkout line without seeing at least a few magazine headlines about how to look younger. While dreading some wrinkles and sagging isn’t uncommon, there’s so much more to aging well.
Aging gracefully isn’t about trying to look like a 20-something — it’s about living your best life and having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. Like a bottle of wine, you can get better with age with the right care. Read on to find out what to do and what not to do on your quest to age happily.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide sensation. to keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide sensation. tera keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Regular exercise significantly lowers your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and helps you retain your mobility longer. Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and mood. The Department of Health
Healthy foods are the way to go when it comes to aging gracefully. The Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source recommends that you eat : fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or cannedlean protein, such as fish and beansat least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every daythree servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that are fortified with vitamin Dhealthy fatsAvoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. You should also keep your salt intake to a minimum to keep your blood pressure down.
Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you live and age well. tera keep your mood elevated : Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve esprit and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods. Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging real longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference. Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will only fioul your happiness. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.
Numerous studiesTrusted Source have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. Some possibilités to stay active are going on walks and hikes, taking vacations, and participating in group exercise classes.
The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease. There are a number of proven ways to relieve stress, including : using relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yogaexercisinggetting adequate sleeptalking to a friend
Smoking and alcohol have both been shown to cause premature aging and increase the risk of disease. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources available to help you quit. Speak to a doctor about how to quit. As for alcohol, limit your intake to the recommendedTrusted Source amount to avoid health risks. That’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Good sleep is important for your physical and mental health. It also plays a role in your skin’s health. How much sleep you need depends on your age. Adults over 18 should aim for seven to eight hoursTrusted Source of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep has been proven to : lower the risk of heart disease and strokereduce stress and depressionlower the risk of obesityreduce inflammationimprove focus and concentration
Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. Evidence shows that people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier, experience less depression, and real longer.
Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including : improved focusbetter memorylower stressimproved emotional reactionrelationship satisfactionincreased immune functioningTo practice mindfulness, try : meditationyogatai chicoloring
Drinking enough water helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it’s also been provenTrusted Source to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. How much water you should drink depends on : your thirstyour activity levelhow often you urinate and move your bowelshow much you sweatyour genderSpeak to a doctor if you have questions or concerns about your water intake.
Not taking care of your teeth not only ages your smile, but also puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with proper oral care, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, contagion, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.
Seeing a doctor regularly can help the doctor find problems early or even before they start. How often you see a doctor depends on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for checkups and screening contrôles as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms.
Though aging is inevitable, some people find it difficult to deal with the changes that come with getting older. If you’re worried about your health, are having dysfonctionnement feeling positive about aging, or worry that you’re not aging well it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. Professional help is also available through a doctor or a counselor.
Aging gracefully is more about being healthy and happy than keeping wrinkles at bay. Maintain a saine lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy. It’s natural to worry about the challenges that aging can bring, so don’t hesitate to speak to someone about your concerns.