Today’s special guest blogger has more expertise on the subject than I do–he is living with dementia. Emphasis on “living.” Thanks, Roger, for sharing this and for reminding us of the potential that people living with dementia have to continue living meaningful lives and making a difference. —Elaine
Coronavirus and Dementia
How I see things in my world
My name is Roger Marple. I live with Alzheimer’s and I am happy to say challenges aside, my quality of life is full and meaningful.
Recently I made a comment on Twitter than seemed to resonate with people.
“When your mortality could be challenged by Coronavirus I get the anxiety and worry many are experiencing. Take it from a guy who is used to have his mortality challenged, don’t stress what you can’t control. Live in the here and now. Carry on folks, you’re doing just fine.” Roger Marple @rogerdoger991
When I see people coming to terms with their mortality possibly being challenged with Coronavirus my empathy for absolutely everyone on earth rang true for me and thus my comment here.
Empathy: such a powerful skill to have in our lives. Definition as follows:
Empathy: noun: “The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.”
Getting our heads around situations when our mortality can be challenged takes time. We need time to process this and collect our thoughts on how we are going to handle our challenge we are facing.
After much thought living with Alzheimer’s, I came to the realization that we all live with this terminal condition called life. After all is said and done we are all in the same boat.
The only difference between me living with Alzheimer’s and healthy people is perhaps I can see how my mortality may look for me. This begs the question how do we handle ourselves in times of adversity? One advantage I have over many I have had time to think about this. I have time to have an understanding what this looks like. You see my friends, I may have challenges but as mentioned my life is full and meaningful for me.
This discussion is about how everyone is going to address adversity head on we are all experiencing and goes back to my mention of the word empathy.
I saw news reports of hundreds of people on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or people in the UK packing bars before they were shut down, having a good time during an outbreak of the largest pandemic of our century.
If I were a betting man based on the media at the time, pretty everyone in world knew about the Coronavirus and the repercussions from spreading this virus, as well as overwhelming our health care system.
Here is an example of empathy not being seen in the big picture in our new reality at least for the time being. Sadly people will suffer down the road due to this behavior in ways I doubt they could even imagine. For every action there is a reaction.
On the other side of the coin, I see story after story of how we are pulling together to help each other. A local beer brewery has halted making their product in my town. They are now making hand sanitizer and giving it away for free to anyone who needs it. I see more examples of this kind of ingenuity, compassion and kindness every day by people and business alike. It is absolutely wonderful, and my respect and admiration runs deep within my heart for them.
I have a neighbor (a single mother) who has a son with a compromised immune system. I drop her off food, baking I have done, and offer anything I can do to help her I am there for her. Another friend is a senior who has similar health issues. He has an open invitation any favor he may need. I’ve fixed things for him, packed water for his water cooler, and ran errands for him. I also look for other opportunities to be a help in these trying times.
It’s all about the choices we make. It’s all about what we can do for others in a time when our needs are at the greatest. It’s all about listening to our government and slowing down the spread of this Corona virus not to overwhelm our health care system. This is a time to reflect on what we can do for others if we are in a position to do so and more importantly acting on it.
I may have Alzheimer’s but at least for now, challenges aside, for the better part I’m still doing ok. I want to be remembered how I lived my life in times of adversity in a good way. Not just my adversity but having empathy for others for their challenges and doing my level best to make a positive difference, whatever way that may look. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures, saving the world; it’s more about baby steps recognizing people that could use a hand.
There will be many unsung heroes who probably won’t even get a thank you for what they did after all is said and done. For these unsung heroes it probably wouldn’t even matter. But at the end of the day they will look in the mirror and like what they see and rightfully so. They made / make a difference in our society.
Hope your choices are good ones going forward in these trying times. We are all in this together in this journey of life my friends. Whether living in times of adversity with Alzheimer’s or times like this with Coronavirus this is how I chose to live my life. I hope you do to.
If one person who lives with Alzheimer’s can see this with such crystal clear clarity, I hope you can too.
Stay safe everyone.