I’m among the forgetters. But I’m not an empty shell.
We’re all human beings, whole human beings, every day of our lives. Alzheimer’s patients must be enabled to live purposeful lives.  

~ Richard Taylor

I choose a new identity as a survivor.
I want to learn to dance with dementia.
I want to live positively each day,
in a vital relationship of trust with my care-partners alongside me.  

~ Christine Bryden

Living with Memory Problems and Dementia

To live positively each day, a person with memory problems (mild or severe) benefits from enriching relationships with loved ones, members of their community, and caregivers.  In unfamiliar situations or at a bad time of day, such individuals can appear confused or apathetic.  When another reaches out with good communication strategies, these individuals can access their memories and contribute to mutually supportive relationships.

In this blog, Gail Elliot and Monica Plante show how these relationships can be enhanced.  The web article on dementia-friendly and dementia-inclusive approaches go beyond personal interactions to community behaviours.

My poems and article on creative writing groups also emphasize communication (spoken, written, and nonverbal).

No Longer Alone

Garden Blossoms

Creative Writing Groups for Individuals with Dementia

Individuals living with dementia are in danger of feeling isolated. A creative writing group can promote remembering and conversation. Writing together in a group provides intellectual stimulation, socialization, sense of belonging, and ongoing creativity. The resulting stories or poems can forge connections with loved ones and even new caregivers.

TO READ MORE, Click here: Ryan, E. B. (2016). Creative Writing Groups for Individuals with Dementia.

DementiAbility Methods
By Gail Elliot

The DementiAbility Methods focus on supporting those who are living with dementia as well as those who provide support and care.  In addition to providing education and resources for both professionals and caregivers, DementiAbility creates a variety of resources that are targeted to those living with dementia. We have books that are for those professional and family caregivers, including our newly released “Dementia Caregiving Solutions and Insights” (a book for caregivers) and “Montessori Methods for Dementia” (for anyone who wants to learn more about our approaches to care).  We also have downloadable resources, such as guidelines for using dolls and stuffed animals and guidelines for creating and using name badges.

DementiAbility also has resources for those living with dementia.  Research provides clear evidence that the three of the greatest unmet needs in dementia are related to boredom, loneliness and lack of success (ranging from activities that are provided at a person’s unique level of ability to memory cues that help individuals find the way, find things and do things in the right order).   We aim to address these needs through some of our resources.  We have a variety of books (about 30 different titles) that are in large print and easy to read. Four of these books are available in audio/visual format through iTunes.  There is also an iPad app called Best Guess, a trivia game that has been set up for success, which can be downloaded through iTunes.  Also, we have a series called “Work It” that includes spelling, math, trivia and works searches.  Each of these resources help to address boredom.  We also sell a memory book, a tool called “Let’s Chat” (with conversation prompts), a book called “Feeling Forgetful” and dolls, to help with needs related to love and connection. Finally, our Memory Aids book provides a wide range of memory cues that are aimed at supporting memory loss.

See DementiAbility for additional information.

Dementia & Family Caregiving

Spirit Story: Moments with Mom
By Monica Plant

I had a conversation with a barista at a local café, which eventually came around to the topic of Alzheimer’s disease. I told him that I was living with, and caring for, my mom who has the disease. His reply was not untypical: “It must be really hard and painful.” I surprised myself with my reply.

Yes, losing parts of Mom has been painful. But I also wonder if those parts — playing competitive tennis, loving jazz — were just window dressing anyway. Were they really Mom? Who’s to say that what she’s getting pared down to as she makes her way through this disease isn’t really her at her most essential? The barista was taken aback.

CLICK to read complete article: Spirit Story

Dementia inclusive

Can We Stop Being “Dementia-Friendly”?

DASN International

Note that Dementia Advocacy and Support International is an organization driven by people with dementia diagnoses.

Writing Exercise

Write about your aging-related memory problems and fears for your future memory and that of your loved ones.  Then write about an ideal visitor or friend, describe behaviours which would make you feel comfortable, included, competent, valued.

With this shadow photo,
I bid you adieu

Ellen