Dementia, humanity and flourishing

humanityHumanity simply means the qualities or characteristics considered as a whole to be characteristic of human beings; kindness, charity, sympathy or compassion. My goal is always to be kind, although sometimes my directness may make others feel I amanita as kind as they would like. I continue to work on this…

I have to keep in mind the quote I have added here, as sometimes I feel I have lost faith in humanity some days.

People with dementia too often find that some without dementia do not offer them basic humanity, but instead seem to be filled with a lack of humanity, caused by a lack of education and understanding, and also because of the stigma and prejudice still in the community towards us. A friend wrote some time ago; I just don’t want to think of you as “Kate, with dementia”. I want to think of you as “Kate – the way I find you each day”. This is in harmony with my blog Does the word disability increase disAbility?  Too often, we are just seen as people with dementia, and only our deficits focused on.

The number of voices from around the world of people living with a diagnosis of dementia speak out about living behind dementia, and also on what is best for them is rising, but it will take more people with an attitude expressed like the one above for policy makers and the general community to take notice of us all.

We need the health care sector, and the community, to not only support us to die, but to support us to live beyond the diagnosis of a dementia, and as positively as humanly possible.

I’ve found the book by Dr martin Seligman that explores in detail the PERMA principle to be hugely helpful, as well as Dr Norman Doidge’s two books on neuroplasticity and the brain. Finding something of value (to me) to do, is taking longer, and the paddling much more difficult, but is definitely worth striving for.

Hence, I continue to focus on the PERMA Principles:

  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement
  • Positive Relationships
  • Meaning, and
  • Accomplishment

I have been using these principles for a long time, and almost every single day I search for more meaning in my daily life and activities, and am working on remaining as positively engaged as possible as I reach for ways to hinder the progress of dementia. I may not succeed in stopping the ultimate progression of dementia, but the positive feelings I continue to harbor help me stay motivated and as happy as I can possibly be, given the circumstances.

In the search for my own humanity, I have found reaching out to others through volunteering has also been paramount to my own emotional health, as the value of seeing the reality that there is always someone worse off than me is empowering and definitely keeps things in proper perspective. I do not want dementia to become the Amway of my life, although I suspect it has in some ways, so getting involved in other things is imperative.

I would also strongly recommend you get a copy of Dr martin Seligman’s book , Flourish:

“Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for fifteen years, is different–it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition. “Flourish “builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism, motivation, and character to show how to get the most out of life, unveiling an electrifying new theory of what makes a good life–for individuals, for communities, and for nations. In a fascinating evolution of thought and practice, “Flourish “refines what Positive Psychology is all about. While certainly a “part “of well-being, happiness “alone “doesn’t give life meaning. Seligman now asks, What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to “flourish”? “Well-being” takes the stage front and center, and Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment–or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfilment.”

Even with dementia, is it possible to live a fulfilling life, and although dementia is in my face every day, it is important to have other things to be involved in to support my ability to remain positive. Building on my own humanity, kindness and goal to be a nice person, I hope by writing about my efforts to live behind a diagnosis of dementia is in some way helpful.

Most of all, people need kindness, and support to live as well as they possibly can, beyond the diagnosis of dementia.

3 thoughts on “Dementia, humanity and flourishing

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