“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
― Robert Frost
I keep reminding myself of this as the United States is on edge with tomorrow’s election. (Maybe you’ve heard there’s an election tomorrow?)
I feel like our nation has been divisively split into two camps. No matter who wins tomorrow, we have to figure out how to move forward. And it might be not pretty.
If you’re anxious about all this, you are not alone. Election anxiety is real. Fear. Stress. Whatever you’d like to call.
You should know that, according to the American Psychological Association, election stress seems to be impacting Democratic and Republican voters equally. Hey, there’s one thing Biden and Trump fans have in common.
Oh, and let’s add COVID to the mix.
If you’re not experience any stress in 2020, I want you to come to my house (in your mask) and lead some sort of guided meditation.
I predict we won’t definitively know the winner of the election before we go to bed tomorrow night. My expectation is that there will be a few rough days of arguing about election results. In other words, election stress isn’t going to make its exit by marching out our front doors on election night. It’s going to stick around like a houseguest who doesn’t take a hint.
This is a reminder that stress is contagious, and people can experience stress when they don’t understand what that stress is about.
Think about little kids. Do they fully understand the ramifications of this election? Do they get why we are wearing masks? Nah. But if they’re parents are stressed, they feel that.
There are many people living with dementia who are politically aware and passionate about the future of our country. Some are ready to argue…some watch Fox News and some watch MSNBC. Some want a wall built, and some don’t. People with dementia have opinions about politics that are just as valid as my own.
This post is not intended to imply that everyone diagnosed with a dementia lacks the ability to follow politics.
Yet, as dementia progresses, some individuals may become less aware of election happenings and more perceptive to the moods and attitudes of those around them.
Long after people with dementia can understand words and decipher sentences, they are aware of facial expression (well…back when we could see people’s faces) and body language.
Add that to the many reasons a person with dementia might be increasingly agitated right now. I mean, there are many reasons we ALL might be increasingly agitated now, right?
A woman I know who caregives for her husband with Lewy-Body dementia in their home told me that her husband recently stopped eating breakfast. She racked it up to being social isolated due to COVID. Then she noticed a pattern.
When she watched the news in the morning, she found herself frustrated with so many things going on in the world. Her husband would often sit in the other room. He was nearly non-verbal, and she didn’t think she was following what was going on in the world. But the days she sat around and watched the news for a couple hours in the morning while drinking her coffee…those were the days her husband didn’t want to eat.
She wasn’t sure if he was hearing just enough of the news to be anxious about the state of the world or if he was picking up on her negative vibe. Either way, she decided changed the pattern.
It’s really not that different than my marriage. When I’m in a negative mood, it’s hard for my husband to stay positive. And vice versa.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t vent to your spouse, but venting to someone who doesn’t have the ability to process what’s happening might do more harm than good.
It’s okay to get frustrated about politics. It’s okay to be mad at things you see on the news. I am not that person who promotes the idea that we need to positive all the time.
We’d never get anywhere if we didn’t have passionate citizens of diverse viewpoints.
I’m just saying to be aware of your vibe. You bring your energy into a space. And other people in that space absorb your energy. Even those people are in the end stages of dementia and may seem unaware of their surroundings.
Side bar: You should never assume anyone with dementia (or anyone else for that matter) is unaware of their surroundings.
It’s not just about your words. Consider your body language. Think about your tone of voice. Your movement. Are you pacing? Are you obsessively wringing your hands?
Be conscious of the energy you bring to people living with dementia.
Maybe we should all be more conscious of the energy we bring to others.
Especially this week.