More understanding and benevolence for people with dementia

The subject of “dementia” affects Michael Wolfschlag personally. Five years ago, a good friend was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s . “I’ve noticed his change over the years,” says the Gilching senior advisory board. Both are 75 years old. But while Wolfschlag is involved in his voluntary work and organizes events such as the “3rd Gilchinger Dementia Week”, his former work colleague withdraws more and more. “I haven’t been able to communicate with him verbally for two years,” regrets Wolfschlag. The friend would struggle for words and also say something, “but that’s not our language. I don’t understand it”.

Wolfschlag has a dementia café in mind

The friend’s incurable dementia is one reason for the graduate psychologist to take up the topic of “dementia” as a senior citizens’ advisory board. Wolfschlag used to work at Siemens as a management consultant and coached executives. It has been used all over the world. He often used psychodrama therapy, a method from depth psychology. “It combines elements of impromptu theater and psychology”. Conflict situations are worked through in role play. Those affected swap roles or play themselves, which reflects behavior and makes it easier to understand. Against this background, it is no wonder that Wolfschlag, as a man of words, takes the fate of his friend who has become speechless to heart. Wolfschlag can be trained as a dementia helper over five weekends and as a dementia partner in a two-hour course. Not because later, like his classmates, he would like to visit those affected at home himself, he would like to understand the disease better and build up a network to help. Wolfschlag has a dementia café in mind for people with dementia in the early stages, groups for relatives, discussion groups. “Interaction with others is even a way to slow down dementia,” says Wolfschlag. There is already a “dementia-friendly” pharmacy in Gilching. Here, the employees have been trained in such a way that they can recognize the signs of the disease and react to them appropriately. Wolfschlag would like the same for the local retail trade. Cashiers would then be more patient, for example, if a senior had problems paying. “You then have in the back of your mind that this customer may have dementia and is doing their best.”

And he wishes for a rethinking in society. Instead of stigmatizing people with dementia, they should be integrated and met with understanding and goodwill. “The main problem is that you don’t put yourself in the shoes of the dementia patient enough to understand what he actually wants,” says Wolfschlag.

Like hearing aids and walkers, dementia has long been part of aging. In view of the aging society, everyone in their neighborhood will encounter more and more people affected. In the age group of over 90-year-olds, every third person is said to have dementia symptoms. There are an estimated 240,000 people with dementia in Bavaria. The number will rise to 300,000 by 2030. Wolfschlag suspects that 400 people with dementia live in Gilching.

humor as a tool

“Dementia” is still a taboo subject, he regrets. In order to change that, the Gilching senior citizens’ advisory board is taking part in the Bavarian Dementia Week of the Ministry of Health and Care. However, the events in Gilching will be spread over the whole month of September. The exhibition “Demensch – Everyday Situations with Dementia” by the cartoonist Peter Gaymann, which can be seen from September 1st to 29th in Gilching’s town hall, marks the beginning. Gaymann showed here last year that humor and dementia go well together. After all, humor is a good way to reduce stress. This year, the cartoons will be supplemented with texts by the dementia specialist Pajam Rais Parsi, who explains the background to the everyday situations shown in the cartoons.

On September 16, Sonja Herrmann from the specialist office for caregiving relatives in the district of Starnberg will give tips under the motto “Dementia – what now?” The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall. Registration under phone 08105/386620. On Tuesday, September 20th, the family film “Romys Salon” will be shown at 3 p.m. The focus of a family story is ten-year-old Romy and her grandmother, who owns a hairdressing salon. In a public discussion on the topic “Have you already forgotten today?” on Thursday, September 29th, assistance for everyday life will be shown. Pajam Rais Parsi will introduce the topic from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Gilching town hall. The expert is responsible for the overall concept for senior citizens in the district office of Landsberg.

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