I am always looking for new ways to communicate the ideas that are important to me. Here is the latest:
Imagine a paraplegic person–spinal cord injury, permanently paralyzed from the waist down. He rolls his wheelchair up to a building with an entrance stairway. Thanks to the Disability Act, he can now access most buildings with the help of a ramp. He doesn’t have to disengage from society because of his disability.
Here’s my question: Where is the “ramp” for people with dementia??
Next imagine that when the man gets to the stairs, his care partners push him out of the wheelchair and expect him to walk up the steps, like they do. He falls, of course. Now imagine that when he gets upset because he can no longer walk as they want him to, they respond by giving him psychiatric medications for his distress.
Dementia is a shift in the way a person perceives and interacts with the world. Medicating those who get upset when we try to make them conform to our world view is futile. We need to create “ramps” to enable them to function, by transforming the care environment around their needs, not ours.