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Ebola and Other News Events

For someone living with dementia, news programs or articles can be confusing and a source of stress, especially when it involves a major crisis. News of the recent Ebola outbreaks, which have made their way to the United States, have caused distress for even the most present thinkers.

With dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), our executive functioning is impacted. This means we may face a decline in our ability to recognize time and space, our ability to reason, and our ability to retain and recall details.

Because of this, it’s understandable that someone with dementia might see pictures from World War II or video clips from the 9/11 attacks and believe these events are currently happening. They might struggle to understand and separate the past from the present.

With current events, we sometimes see problems with understanding local issues versus global issues. For example, someone who grew up in a woodsy area of Tennessee might be fearful of wildfires in California. A typhoon in the Philippines might cause concern for someone living on the coast. This confusion can lead to fear, anxiety, and depress, which can, in turn, worsen the original distress.

Here are some ways you can help your loved one:
  • -Discuss what was seen or read and help them process and interpret the information as it relates to them and their world.
  • -If confusion with news becomes more frequent, remove the source of distress. Unsubscribe from newspapers or magazines. Encourage your loved one to focus on different TV channels.
  • -For severe cases, professional help could be beneficial. The therapists with A Wiser Mind are specially trained to deal with issues like depression, anxiety, and fear, particularly when it comes to our older population and those living with AD or dementia.

Remember that even the smallest piece of negative information can have an impact on someone with dementia or AD. Discussing news events will not only help your loved one process the information, but discussing the details will provide a healthy dose of mental stimulation…a universal benefit, no matter what your age or cognitive status might be!

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