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On a more positive note

Taking care of yourself

"The way I see it, I’m not dying from dementia, I’m living with dementia." (Peter)

"Since my father was diagnosed with dementia, I feel that he is more approachable and that we are closer. I am glad that I have the opportunity to spend more time with him." (Annabel)

When you first hear the diagnosis, you may wonder how it is possible to find anything positive about caring for someone with dementia and even less so, about having dementia. In this section, the intention is not to say that dementia is a good thing but rather that the experience of dementia can sometimes lead people to understand or see something positive in themselves or other people.

All too often, you will come across negative images and descriptions of dementia but this is just one side of the coin. The other side is one of kindness, caring, personal growth, love and dedication. Many carers have described positive aspects of caring and as people with dementia are increasingly being given the opportunity to voice their feelings and opinions, it is possible to gain insight into their experience of having dementia and how many manage to maintain a positive outlook on life. Several good books are now available that have been written by people with dementia (please see Annex 2 for references). Of course, people with dementia can express themselves in many ways e.g. through art, photography, gardening or participating in research etc.

For the person with dementia

  • You might notice how friends and family support you.
  • You may be able to help others in a similar situation.
  • A few positive comments from people with dementia1……
    • Life does change but offers new positive things despite the illness. I have time to learn new skills.
    • I can spend more time with my grandchildren.
    • You get to know yourself and what works for you.
    • Same person? – No, I’m a better person; I now have a greater understanding of impairments.
    • Now is the time to do what you’ve always wanted to.
    • We are travelling from an old life to a new. If you can think in a positive way and get the help and support you need, the journey can be brighter and less frightening. Remember you do not travel alone. (Pat, James and Ian) Source: Don’t make the journey alone; a message from fellow travellers (Alzheimer Scotland-Action on Dementia)

For the carer

  • You may find that the person with dementia is more spontaneous and shows their feelings more.
  • You may feel more accepted for what you are.
  • Any mistakes you make are likely to be quickly forgotten.
  • You may have the opportunity to pay someone back for the care they previously gave you.
  • You may experience a sense of personal or inner growth as you develop a new sense of self, gain self respect and become more independent through the experience of caring for someone.



Last Updated: Friday 11 September 2009