The famed British dementia researcher Dr. Tom Kitwood once said that caregivers are “physicians of the human spirit.”
I would argue that life enrichment and activity professionals in senior living and long-term care communities who are providing meaningful engagement to residents deserve equal accolades.
Music, art, exercise and movement, life-long learning, civic-engagement projects, communication, and fun help the person living with dementia (and all residents) feel safe, valued and productive. Activities and life enrichment professionals not only create the structure and programming in memory care, but they also serve as role models for all the staff, encouraging them to put the person before the task.
We still don’t fully agree on (or understand) the causes of dementia. Despite recent FDA approvals, we have ways to go before there is a medicine that will significantly delay the onset or reverse symptoms of dementia.
Fortunately, we do agree about approaches that can help people living with dementia live their best lives. It is through empathy, skilled communication, socialization and friendship. It is through creating a therapeutic or healing environment that fights depression, isolation and loneliness.
The brain loves company, and this principle is one area of commonality between three approaches to dementia care that will be discussed in a free virtual day-long conference, the Decoding Dementia Gathering, being hosted by Linked Senior on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
The conference will kick off with a panel discussion featuring (for the first time ever) Dr. Cameron Camp (Montessori Inspired Lifestyles), and Vicki de Klerk-Rubin (Validation method developed by Naomi Feil). I am honored to be the third presenter representing the Best Friends Approach to Dementia (developed with Virginia Bell).
Join us to learn more about these three (dare I say) trailblazing approaches to dementia care and learn how you can incorporate these ideas into your day-to-day practice, particularly those relating to activities and life enrichment.
At the end of the webinar, participants will receive “30-day challenges” involving elements of these three approaches to dementia care, which you can download and put into practice.
Many of you know that my dear friend and long-time writing partner, Virginia Bell, passed away recently at almost 101 years old. She worked and remained active until the very end. She would absolutely give her blessing to this historic “meeting of the minds.” But she would also remind us all to stay focused on the work ahead. Quoting Will Rogers, “Even if you are on the right (railroad) track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
I invite all of you to join the Decoding Dementia Gathering to develop your own action plan to create a better world for persons living with dementia, their families, and your staff who deliver, as Dr. Kitwood would say, care that touches the spirit every day.
David Troxel, MPH, is a speaker at regional, national & international conferences related to elder care, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, staff development & training and program development. He is a consultant to long-term care companies related to best practices in dementia care. David is the Co-Developer of the Best Friends model of Alzheimer’s Care with Virginia Bell.
The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.
Have a column idea? See our submission guidelines here.