I am a bit late to the party, I know, but I have just finished S.J. Watson’s utterly mesmerising Before I Go To Sleep. I haven’t seen the film, so I was completely unprepared for all the twists and turns of the plot.

For those of you who don’t know (and I won’t ruin it) the main character is suffering from dissociative amnesia. She wakes up most days with no memory of the husband beside her or the home she’s been living in for years. It’s a kind of enforced mindfulness. She can only be aware of the present since her previous memories are outdated; she is cut off from both her future and her past. This dissociation, this limbo state, is understandably the cause of a great deal of stress and anxiety. It is the same stress I witnessed in grandparents suffering from dementia, and it is one which mindfulness has been used successfully to address.

Mindfulness and Dementia

A recent study found that mindfulness can be particularly beneficial to people in the early stages of dementia. This is arguably one of the worst, most debilitating times for those with this condition. I shudder to think how truly awful it must be to be aware of your deterioration. To see the impact it is having on your family and be utterly powerless to stop it, to hold on and stay with them. The ability to centre yourself in the present, to focus on the now and enjoy what you have, without fearing the future, must be completely priceless. It has also been shown that those in the later stages of this disease can achieve significant benefits in their quality of life with mindfulness.

Here’s hoping this work advances quickly; it obviously has a huge amount to offer the millions already living with dementia.

Image Source: Wonderlane

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Latest update: April 8, 2015
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