This is a tough subject that many of us tend to avoid or fear – the inevitable process of aging and, ultimately, the end of life. In our culture, society and carers in particular often view death as a failure or something to be prevented at all costs, but it’s essential to recognize that dying is not a failure; it’s a natural and inevitable part of the human experience. And is part of the dementia journey.
Dementia is an extraordinary journey. It’s filled with ups and downs, joys and challenges, and, yes, it ultimately leads to the end of life, if something does not happen in between. But we must remember that this is not a failure. In fact, it’s a testament to the remarkable lives our loved ones have lived. Let’s explore why embracing this reality can help us better appreciate and support our aging population.
It’s Part of the Circle of Life: Just like birth, aging, and death are fundamental aspects of the circle of life. They are interconnected and part of the natural order of things. Just as we celebrate the birth of a new baby, we should also acknowledge and appreciate the wisdom, experiences, and stories of our elderly loved ones as they approach the end of their journey.
Quality Over Quantity: In our pursuit of prolonging life, we often forget that it’s not just about the quantity of years but the quality of life. Ensuring that our loved ones have a good quality of life, filled with dignity, comfort, and love, is more important than stretching out the years through aggressive medical interventions. Quality care in the final stage of life can make all the difference in how our loved ones experience their last days. And how we remember them.
Dying Can Be a Release: Sometimes, for our loved ones, death can be a release from pain, suffering, confusion or a diminished quality of life. By accepting this fact, we can support our loved ones in making choices that align with their desires and values.
Cherishing Moments and Memories: Recognizing the inevitability of aging and dying encourages us to cherish the moments we have with our family members and friends. Spend time listening to their stories, learning from their experiences, and creating precious memories that will live on in our hearts. This is deeply connecting and is a beautiful part of the dementia journey between the person with dementia and their carers.
Legacy and Wisdom: Our family members carry with them a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and life lessons, which hopefully they have shared with us throughout their lives. Their stories are a part of our heritage. By embracing the reality of their aging, illness and eventual passing, we can encourage them to share their wisdom, ensuring that their legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of future generations.
Supporting Their Choices: Respecting the wishes and choices of our loved ones is paramount at the end of their lives. It’s essential to support and honour their decisions.
Dementia, aging and dying are not failures, but rather the poignant, inevitable chapters in the story of life. By recognizing this truth and embracing it with love, empathy, and compassion, we can provide our loved ones with the care and respect they deserve. We can create an environment where they can gracefully transition into their next adventure, knowing that their journey is valued and celebrated.
We need to shift our perspective and approach aging and death with the respect and honour they deserve. By doing so, we can better support our loved ones and create a world where their final moments are filled with love, dignity, and peace. Remember, life is a beautiful tapestry, and aging and dying are threads that give it depth and meaning. Let’s treasure every aspect of this magnificent journey.