I wrote an article a while back called “16 Things That I Would Want If I Got Dementia.” Then I started thinking, how will dementia caregiving change in the future?
How will the world change in 10 years? 20 years? While it is tough to predict the future, I know what my day-to-day needs are now—and they will probably affect how someone will have to care for me down the road.
1. When I lose my cell phone, I turn the house upside down to find it. Nowadays, everyone in long-term care is looking for their wallets, keys, and purses. In 10 years or more? Cell phones. We’re going to have to start keeping “burner phones” around dementia communities so that residents can find replacements easily!
2. If we’re friends on Facebook, I see every status you post. Social media is a big part of my life. Even if I have dementia, I am going to want to check up on my media outlets. It is going to be pretty challenging to prevent me from posting confusing things on the Web.
3. I check my email constantly. The residents at my dementia care community don’t currently have access to the Internet—which is mostly a product of their average age. I don’t think that any of them know how to use email. They all get letters in the mail from family and friends. In the future? Hand over that keyboard.
4. My favorite music isn’t everyone else’s favorite music. My current residents with dementia tend to enjoy the same types of music. Any song that was popular in the 1940s is generally welcomed by every single one of them, so it is easy to play those songs in common areas. Today I have Sirius XM Radio in my car. How many hundreds of stations do they offer? Everyone is going to want and expect different music around a long-care community.
5. When I want Chinese food delivered to my house, I order it. My current residents with dementia did not grow up having meals delivered to their homes. In fact, there just weren’t as many food options (especially fast food) available at all. All I know is that somebody better stop me from ordering a pizza at 3 AM if I forget what time of day it is.
When you’re caring for someone with dementia, it is easy to get caught up in the seemingly bizarre “behaviors” they have. “Why does mom do that?” you may ask yourself as you search for the drive behind her actions.
Sometimes the easiest clue to look at is also the easiest to overlook: that “behavior” could stem from a generational difference.