People living with dementia are stigmatized in multiple ways, one of which is treating the activities the rest of us do for pleasure as “therapies.” My view is that we need to ditch the word therapy, and provide activities that engage, activate and enhance life as an integral part of care.
Dementia is the greatest shame of modern medicine; not because there have been no significant advances in treatment, but because—from restraints, to locked units, to antipsychotics, to ECT—we have lost our recognition of the humanity of those living with the diagnosis.
I believe the things we do to try to support people with dementia almost always come from a good place. We want to help them. Many times we do not know how. So, we do our best at that time. One might argue that something is better than nothing.
Over the last two years, my East Side Institute colleague Dr. Susan Massad and I have had the honor of leading “The Joy of Dementia” workshops around the country. One former college professor whose diagnosis was still recent, began sharing the experiences and emotions she was going through, and ended by saying, “What can I say, it’s just weird.”
Long-term care residents living with dementia labeled as “aggressive” when they engage in distressing and harmful “resident-to-resident incidents” are in reality expressing real human needs and frustrations that are not being met by understaffed, undertrained, and inadequately supervised direct care staff members.
No matter how much we wish for simple answers, life does not work that way. In order to navigate life, we must embrace its complexity. Dementia support is no different.
Using real life stories, Geert Bettinger’s new book Moving on by Standing Still: A Different View of ‘Problem Behavior’, demonstrates how damaging it is when care professionals assume they know what’s best for people living with intellectual or cognitive disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Throwing the gauntlet at mainstream care practices, Bettinger describes compelling examples […]
Imagine a dementia-inclusive community; a place where each person’s uniqueness is valued, deep relationships flourish and differences are embraced. Imagine a dementia-inclusive community where each person’s perceptions and experience of the world, while often different than our own, are taken into account and honored.