Skip to content

Dementia and Consciousness

There is one line in the definition of dementia by the World Health Organization that most people seem to not acknowledge: “Consciousness is never affected”. Not ‘sometimes’ or ‘mostly’ – NEVER. The person living with dementia is conscious of their condition. Even though they cannot communicate verbally, it does not mean that they are not conscious. They feel, but more than that, they KNOW. They know who you are, always, even though they might forget your name or are unable to show recognition.

They are aware of how they are treated, even though they cannot ask you to stop treating them like that. Their “shutting off” is not necessarily a result of their dementia, but often because they can tolerate -or react to – the way that they are treated by the world. Afford people living with dementia your PRESENCE, being fully there, acknowledge the sacredness of their human spirit. Dementia does not necessarily affect the entire brain all at once – there is the capacity for growth and new neurological pathways to form throughout the ageing process. The person is never lost to the disease – “we need to change our minds about people whose minds have changed” (my favourite line from Dr Al Power).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *