Did you know that we have two brains? Well we do! Two separate hemispheres that perform different functions connected by a communication channel called your Corpus Collosum. I guess it gives new meaning to “two heads are better than one.” This article is based on the book I’ve written called, “Embracing the Journey: Knowing your Inner Hippie,” where I explore the world of Alzheimer/Dementia from a completely different perspective. I’m on a mission to educate and support the caregiver who faces the diagnosis and is not packed for the journey that lies ahead. Let’s take a look at these two brains and how they can help us understand Dementia.
Let me first introduce you to our Left Brain. I refer to this side as our “Judge.” The Judge is where your intellect resides, our right from wrong mentality, fight or flight, our politically correct button, our victims, our Drama Queens (or Kings). Your speech and memory live here. Many of us lead with our left brains, going through life looking at things with a judgment approach. When someone is diagnosed with Dementia, I believe their Judge retires. And we are introduced to the Right Brain that I refer to as our “Hippie.” The Hippie is our imaginative side, our free flowing, no filter spirit, our gift finder, our creative side, our explorer. Some of us do lead our daily lives with our right brain, but the judges refer to these folks as “Eccentric.”
There is a Hippie in all of us and it has been there since we were young, playing make believe, creating dreams that we wanted to achieve, coloring, painting, playing an instrument, learning to dance. Our parents fed that side and as we aged, our intellect, logic and experiences grew the Judge. If you start to understand this philosophy, then you will soon realize that a person diagnosed with Dementia is not gone, it’s not the longest goodbye but a chance to say hello to the other side that is in all of us that now has permission to lead us in our journey of life. It perhaps is a chance to fall in love all over again with a person you have already loved for years. It can be a gift.
Learn to live, laugh, and love again
So many times when I meet caregivers that are faced with their loved ones on the journey of Dementia, they become sad, frustrated, exhausted, angry, and feel so alone. It doesn’t have to be this way. My mission is to teach them how to find their Hippie and to learn how to enjoy the journey and not mourn the path. There are three fundamentals to help the caregiver and their loved one. It’s the Three E’s. Encourage, Engagement and Enrichment. There are creative ways to communicate with your loved one, exercises to find the laughter and new understandings to help the caregiver take a deep breath and embrace the journey.
With the right tools, your Hippie side engaged and love in your heart, a caregiver can walk the path side by side with their loved one facing the diagnosis and finding the gifts along the way.
About the Author
Phyllis A. DeLaricheliere, MS is a Project Manager for the new 55+ Independent Living Community Fairing Way @ Union Point located in Weymouth MA. She has made a career out of working with Seniors in finding them housing for over 20 years. She is a sought after speaker/educator and travels all over New England delivering her HIPPIE message. She can be reached for lecturing or guest speaking at 802-999-7503 firstname.lastname@example.org or if interested in making Fairing Way your new home call her at 781-660-5000 email@example.com. www.fairingway.org zx