Today over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia and it remains the 6th leading cause of death in the US. Even though it affects a large percentage of the population, it still remains the number one cause of death in unpreventable diseases. This week we were granted the opportunity to speak with Lori La Bey, an expert on Alzheimer’s and the founder of the website Alzheimer’s Speaks, a website dedicated to the support and help of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What kind of impact has Alzheimer’s had on your life?
The disease has been in my life over 30 years, so that is over half of my life. Needless to say, it has had a huge impact. It has changed everything in my life from how I look at life in general , to how I look at others, to how I look at myself. Nothing is the same and all is much better than it once was.
Name 3 life lessons you have learned from dealing with dementia?
1. Let go of control and striving for perfect. Both are just myths.
2. Stop planning for what could happen and live in the moment. Go with the flow of all parties involved…become spontaneous
3. Focus on the person you are caring for and let go of my ego. Many times looking back I can see I truly had my focus on me and what made me comfortable. Today I can truly focus on their needs and not mine.
How can emotional based training help those dealing with dementia?
Emotional Based Training is significant in teaching and observing new ways. Feeling a shift needing to be made puts it in a new light on it. One can see a change needed and choose to ignore it, but it is very difficult to feel a needed change and not take action.
What has been the most painful part of your 30 year journey with your Mother’s dementia?
My loss has gone on and on for many years and I have chosen not to focus on the pain but instead I chose to look for, find and appreciate grateful moments.
I believe we focus on 3 simple things.
1. The things that make us sad
2. The things that scare us
3. The things that bring us joy
If we can try to focus on these things I truly believe we will find what we are looking for.
What is the one tool or tip you have found to help you be a better care partner for someone with dementia?
Your Memory Chip™ which helps care partners focus on 3 simple things… are they safe, happy and are they pain-free.
Lori La Bey, CSA, is the founder, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Speaks, a Minneapolis-based advocacy group that provides education and support for those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Her mission is to deliver programs, platforms and collaborations to shift caregiving from crisis to comfort.