Welcome to Memory Care Support’s
December 2016 newsletter!
The Big "D"
D is for Dementia…
Lucky for all of us, there have been some breakthroughs in the field of dementia – No, a cure hasn’t been found…the breakthroughs are in the level of discussion regarding the quality of life for people living with dementia (PLWD)…
For too long, “D” has stood for:
Deficits…focus has been on inabilities and loss rather than retained abilities. “Over the hill” and decline has come to define aging and if you are older and also experiencing dementia, you are seen as incapacitated (without capacity), without worth. The stigma of dementia still exists but we’re learning that PLWD have many retained the capacities, the most important is for relationships. If we form a relationship with them we’ll know them as a complete and contributing person.
Disappear…elderly affected by dementia have been almost invisible. Out of sight, out of mind until their vast numbers have called upon us to pay attention. If the occasion occurred that we had to visit someone with dementia in a “facility”, we hurried in and out, glad we were able to walk out the front door and be back in the sunshine and fresh air. The PLWD were left behind to live in places that none of us would choose for ourselves.
Drugs…if there are “problem behaviors”, psychoactive medications have been prescribed to sedate, keep people quiet and prevent them from expressing themselves. These medications were never tested or recommended for older adults with dementia and in fact have warnings of dangerous adverse effects for PLWD.
In 2017, “D” can stand for:
Dialogue…the discussion is up close and personal – today, we all know someone living with dementia – this is about all of us and the people we love. Let’s not look away but rather choose to lean in. Let’s change the story to a positive one – using collaboration and exploration to find new ways to enable PLWD to live life.
Dignity…dignity speaks to a sense of self-worth and meaningful days. In a recent study by Dr. Jennifer Carson of the Univ. of Nevada, over 200 PLWD were asked what they needed and wanted. They responded they wanted opportunities for meaningful experiences that they could choose from – phrases like “seek freedom”, “make a difference” and “grow and develop” were used.
Disrupt…take a look at the “old ways” and decide to do it differently. Instead of a story of loss and decline, we can tell a story of retained capacities, creativity, and possibilities. We don’t know all the answers yet…it’s complicated and the new model of support will evolve as we continue to ask questions. Just a few years ago, you didn’t hear questions, just the assumption that this was the way it had always been done. Dr. Bill Thomas, a famous “disrupter” just finished his Disrupt Dementia national tour. You can see some of the highlights here.
A friend reminded me of a beautiful quote from Maya Angelo, “When we knew better, we did better”. We are on that journey together now.
Have a great day!
Wishing everyone the best for the remainder of 2016 and I look forward to working together with you in 2017.
If you work in Senior Care and want
To make your dementia care program even better,
contact me for a free consultation.
Anne Ellett, N.P., M.S.N.
AANC Certified Gerontological Nurse
Founder, Executive Director - Memory Care Support
Ph. 949 933-6201