Dementia is a set of symptoms and is therefore known as a syndrome. The symptoms will include memory loss. Other symptoms may include changes in behaviour and personality, physical symptoms, confusion, and impaired movement. Some types of dementia can be progressive but some can be reversed such as dementia from alcohol abuse. The timing of effective treatment will reverse some types of dementia. The main symptom of dementia is memory impairment which will intefere with work and social functioning.
Dementia can be present in other types of diseases. The most common is Alzheimer's disease and the second most common is vascular dementia. Other common forms of diseases that include symptoms of dementia are Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease and fronto-temporal dementia.
Dementia can be confused as a progressive disease however symptoms may be due to alcohol abuse, which can be reversed and due to other other forms of medical conditions such as depression, trauma, tumor in the brain, lack of vitamins and infections.
Most types of dementia can be prevented by a healthy diet, and exercising your body and mind.
Deci and Ryan develop the self-determination theory, which is a theory of motivation. The theory has been used to address goals, the workplace and education. It has also be used to understand individual differences, personality development, performance and behaviour. In order for a person to be self-determined, meaning they are intrinsically motivated to behave at their best, they will have to be supported to feel competent, have autonomy and experience relatedness. These three needs will have to be met for an employee or person to be self-determined at work and personal life.
When it comes to the workplace, it is important that an organisation’s strategy supports and promotes self-determination for employees to be engaged in their workplace and be intrinsically motivated to complete goals and have healthy work behaviours. Intrinsically motivated employees will work effectively and efficiently because it supports their values, gives them meaning, makes them feel good and supports their overall vision. When an employee is in an environment that encourages and supports self-determination they will have the autonomy to make their own choices that supports their goals, relate well with others and feel understood, and believe they are competent to complete the task. Therefore leaders in an organisation will have to ensure that employees are given enough training and support to ensure that they can indeed do the work well, interpersonal relationships are healthy and supportive, and employees are trusted enough to make the right choices, rather than be told what to do. When the employee understands the organisation’s vision and goals, and it matches his/her goals, then the obvious choice would be to work effectively and efficiently to achieve the goals. However, enough trust and communication will have to be given to ensure that the vision and goals are communicated and that they can be achieved. For example, when employees understand the organisational strategy they will have increased motivation to support the strategy. When they don’t understand the strategy, their intrinsic motivation will be undermined and it will create uncertainty. To put this in another way, how will you make the choice to reach a goal if you don’t know what it is.
Moreover, research has found that when the job characteristics are understood and compliments the employees level of competence the employee will more likely to be self-determined. When leadership supports autonomy, the employee’s behaviour will be self-determined. Self-determined behaviour increases job satisfaction, altruism, organisational commitment, and low turnover intention.
In summary, and the take home message, is to create healthy workplaces that support autonomy, relatedness and competence for employees to achieve the organisational goals. If your employees are not working as effectively, consider self-determination theory to improve strategy, structure and outcomes.
A lot of research as been implemented in the caregiving role as it is an important aspect in the ageing, mental health and disability community. Carers put a lot of selfless effort into their role because they just want to to be there for the people they love and care about. Their role is probably the most difficult because usually they will have to put their life on hold to care for others. It is not something that is planned, but an unplanned experience that comes with its own lot of challenges and personal growth for the carer.
Here are some quotes from carers who care for people who have cognitive decline or dementia, while the carers themselves adjust in their new and unplanned role. The quotes are from a book called "Family Caregivers: Disability, Illness and Ageing". The book contains information about a longitudinal research program about the carer's role and their health while caring to influence policy and intervention changes.
"They are not the person that you have known as a child, so you are adjusting to having a stranger in your house."
"It's terrible, it's soul-destroying, watching someone that you love go downhill."
"Our relationship has changed. Before he got sick our marriage wasn't too close because he was away a lot and we grew apart. All of a sudden he got sick and we were thrown together... I had a terrible lot of resentment because just as we should be starting to enjoy life, I had to stay at home and look after him."
"He's never asked me to do anything in all our 35 years of married life and now he finds that he's got to and that's the worst thing."
"A man caring for his wife felt that 'if you're feeding them three times a day, and you're standing there for two hours every meal, you start getting very uptight yourself."
As you can see the adjustment to the new caring role can be frustrating and challenging while you put on a brave face to cope. Sometimes you may need to crumble, sometimes cry, and sometimes resent your new role. But ultimately as I have experienced with many carers you will cope because you are strong, the most loving type of people I have ever met and the most giving. Just don't feel bad if you don't feel strong for the moment, because it is only a moment in time and you are not alone.
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