THE OTHER SIDE OF DEMENTIA

How to navigate a parent’s Dementia diagnosis

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Jun 21, 2019
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How many of you have a parent or a loved one suffering from Dementia? 

How many feel distressed, frustrated, guilty or exhausted?

According to the world health organisation the number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47 million and is projected to increase to 75 million by 2030.

My mum was diagnosed with Dementia in July 2016.

Back then, I was excited about the prospects of my life. I was in my late thirties and had closed an important chapter in my professional life, changed my career and was setting up my business, all this with a big dream and the vision to empower women worldwide and create more conscious leaders.

The diagnosis changed my life in an unimaginable way and my purpose didn’t matter that much… I thought that when one finds their purpose in life nothing could shake it!! But I was wrong, I learnt you can have several purposes and now I have a big one, to take care of my mother.

For such an optimistic person like I am I didn’t know how to feel after such devastating news; I thought maybe the doctors were wrong… maybe this year is when they finally find a cure?

That weekend following the diagnosis I learnt the first profound “Dementia” lesson: to let the heart feel what needs to feel regardless of the feeling. I surrendered and grieved.

The first few months were hard. I was fearful, in denial. I was angry, how could this happen to us? Why us?

I spent months researching about the disease, the why, how, when, life expectancy, alternative cures, preventative measures, the next steps, what the future could potentially look like, the support available to family and carers… and the other inevitable questions started too: will I also suffer it in the future?  Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

I came across a TED talk by Lisa Genova. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment:

  • Diagnosis doesn't mean immediate death 
  • Dementia sufferers won't lose their emotional memory 
  • People with Dementia are much more than what they can remember

It is very hard to see how my mum slowly looses her memory, I have no choice but to ACCEPT this reality, and by practising acceptance in the most challenging situation I also started accepting those other situations in life I could not change. I learned that the old adage is true - the way you do anything, is the way you do everything.

As carers, we cannot change the situation we are in but what we can change is how we deal with it…

One day it occurred to me, what if this disease is an opportunity for me to grow as a human being? What if Dementia can help me become a more conscious person?

Because one thing I know nobody can act beyond their level of consciousness.   

The disease can test the ego and trigger old unhealed wounds; if this is the case, what if every trigger was actually a gift, an opportunity to be aware, reflect, grow and heal? 

The past 3 years were challenging, grounding and an opportunity to learn profound lessons that my beautiful mother keeps teaching me through her Dementia… 

Here are some of the lessons…

To LOVE unconditionally… real love is not angry, disappointed, vengeful nor arrogant. Love is Love.

The art of GENEROSITY, to give without expecting back… generosity with our time, words, how we show up, how we serve… I also got reminded that it is the highest honour to care for those who once cared for us.

One of my biggest fears, and still is, is the inevitable day my mother won’t recognise us anymore, but when I learnt the concept of PRESENCE & PATIENCE, a result of having the same conversations 10 minutes apart, the fear vanishes, one stays in the now and enjoy what there is to enjoy… which is a lot… and the ripple effect of such concept is learning to LET GO… of the past, of what doesn’t serve us, of who we once were and what we had.

May you also find healing, peace and love. 

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Lara Khalaf 

Woman's development & leadership specialist

Follow me on Instagram and Linkedin


 

 

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Lara Khalaf

Founder, Woman's Development Specialist, TEDx, International Speaker , www.Larakhalaf.com & Woman 5.0

“Hard work”, “Determination” and “Love” are the 3 main qualities that most define my career and life accomplishments to date. I was raised between Syria and Spain and I currently live in London. --- I hold a degree in literature, however my love has been people leadership where I spent more than 20 years in progressive roles and managing large team operations across organizations in the private, corporate and public sectors with "la creme de la creme" firms. --- I love my dogs, belly dancing, reading spiritual books, Choo shoes, playing tennis and collecting healing crystals.--- As a professional Coach and International Leadership Trainer, I love working with women in business helping them flourish in their roles, to become more confident, successful and conscious leaders, and as such, I created 2 unique programs "The Female Founder Kickstart" & "The Powerhouse Leader", there is another program called "She Leads" aimed at women from all walks of life; for corporations I am very proud to facilitate a one in a kind woman's program called "RISE"--- I hope these blogs serve you really well to lead and live a life full of love, beauty, purpose and consciousness.

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