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I’m sure over the last few days there have been several stories going viral- the ALS ice bucket challenge and then the woman who took her own life because of Dementia. Working in the health care system, I am constantly reminded of all the things that may possibly come with age… and it scares to me know that indeed, growing old will be inevitable for all of us.

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As kids, the world seemed so endless and filled with so much possibility. Fathoming the ways of how to fly or swim with the dolphins in the vast ocean. Not having the words “I can’t do it” in their heads. Everything was possible. As early adults, having finished school, there are variety of dreams that wish to be achieved, things to be striven towards. But when you grow older, you realize how life can be so tragic and filled with unrealistic expectations that can never be achieved/met. And with it unfortunately, comes the unwanted. At an age of 25, I can probably use all 10 fingers to count the number of people who I know have passed away…

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When you see someone who is suffering from some sort of illness, it’s almost as if the disease just gives way… and masks the person as a whole. Automatically, when you hear the word, that disease just pops into your head and you become fixated on it. But when you treat the disease and not the person… you’ll never get anywhere.

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When I read Gillian Bennett’s blog, it saddened me because it really brought into perspective how she looked at life and all the things that were once beautiful and valuable. It gives me chills that it was written just before she had ended her life… which was her own decision, which I will fully respect. We will never know what goes on in other people’s mind, but the last thing to do is to put your own judgment and values on them. To fully appreciate the beauty of it all is to fully embrace yourself in trying to understand and learn about the person. As a whole. Not just the disease. Yes, we better need to understand everything that is out there medically, but at the same time, we won’t get anywhere if we treat just the disease itself. To be patient with them and work with them. Not to think of them as a hinderance or a burden.

I went to a play in my past, called You Will Remember Me, about a man and his journey in life with Alzheimer’s Dementia. It touches on the hardships that he faces, along with the family interactions along side it. When we see a person with an illness, it’s hard to reflect and see how beautiful their life has been. They were once young and like everyone else, were striving towards different ambitions. Instead of considering them as a disease, think of ways you can reflect back on their life and them as a person. How would they like to be remembered as?

 

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