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Coming to Grips as the Memory Fades

June 22, 2015

It starts so innocuously; a misplaced set of keys, a lost wallet, a burned dinner. Any one event is so easily dismissed, but taken cumulatively you quietly begin to question your own mind or that of your partner or parent or friend.

Despite the finesse with which the issue is raised, the comment or concern may cut like a knife. The thought of perishing inside one’s own mind terrifies.

Very often, awareness of one’s own deficits is limited. One doesn’t see what one cannot remember. The gaps are filled in with one’s own beliefs that seemingly make sense to the one affected, but bears no resemblance to the reality of the others. Conflict, mistrust, confusion, anger, depression, loss, anxiety pervade.

Coming to grips as the memory fades is a process over time and a journey for not only the affected by those whose lives intersect. A new normal sets in but it is not a static new normal but one that rests on shifting sands.

How does one talk about these changes, these challenges, the implications, the choices? How does one cope whether the affected, the caregiver, the family or the friend? What should be said or left unsaid… and when?

Living with dementia, coming to grips as the memory fades will be so different from one person to another. The right way of one isn’t necessarily the path of another. Right will also be a function of where one is over the course of one’s journey. There can be so much to talk about, yet when and how become challenges to determine.

If you or a loved one is coping with dementia, apart from the wonderful support available through different community groups and resources there is a much more private and particular path and events and discussions that need be determined, that need be had.

When seeking to cope amidst the fear of a life affected with dementia, include counseling for yourself, yourself with your partner and with your family, especially when feeling stuck or unsure about having meaningful conversations and making appropriate plans.

As painful the thought and reality of dementia, the isolation and feeling stuck and upset for conversations not had can be even more tragic. Life can be less about what it throws at us than how we cope, together.

We may find meaning, greater peace and more support the result of counseling. Counseling may help what feels insufferable, feel meaningful. Counseling may help you better manage the shifting sands, finding strategies to cope and better manage from one stage to the next. It is well worth considering when coming to grips as the memory fades. Counseling may help.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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  1. Thanks for this great post, Gary. I have worked with many families affected by dementia. I have written a book based on a short-term counselling program I designed. The book is called, Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide (2015). It is a self-help guide that will help anyone who knows someone affected. From diagnosis to long-term care and beyond. Please check it out. It’s available on Amazon in print and Kindle. Thanks again! – Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW

  2. Grace permalink

    Thank you so much really enjoyed reading the article. My mother has Dementia and its been a painful journey. Grace LMSW

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