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Dementia Care: Six Reasons Why It’s Changing (and they’re all good!)

Anne Ellett, M.S.N., N.P., is worth listening to. She is a respected dementia care expert and the founder of memorysupport.com, a great resource for all things relating to dementia. She also participated on a panel of dementia experts following a preview of the film, “Alive Inside” in Denver, CO, hosted by Anthem Memory Care in the fall of 2015. And she’s on a mission to educate as many people as possible about dementia – what it is, what it isn’t, and how the nature of care is changing (thankfully).

We were so impressed with Anne’s recent newsletter entitled “Dementia Care Isn’t What it Used to Be…And That’s a Good Thing Part I” that we thought we’d share some of its key touchpoints.

Anne has identified six prime factors that are working together to fuel positive change in dementia care. Here they are in a nutshell, along with our comments.

  1. Everyone knows someone with dementia. Thanks to bringing dementia out of the shadows and into the light where we can learn more about it. More media coverage and more discussion has helped eliminate old stereotypes as well.
  2. Medical science is making it possible to diagnose dementia in the very early stages.  And, hopefully, earlier and earlier!
  3. People who are affected by dementia want to be involved in decisions and influencing policies.  No more “hands off” policy, leaving all decisions to the doctors. As Anne puts it "Nothing about me without me".
  4. Emphasis is on living with dementia. This is a chronic condition that can be lived with, as long as we focus on what one can do, rather than what one can no longer do. It’s a simple, yet powerful shift in mindset.
  5. It's becoming unacceptable to isolate people with dementia. And it’s about time. Fortunately, we are evolving to understand the value of integrating individuals with dementia within the greater population. And it’s working.
  6. The customer/consumer (the person affected by dementia and their family members) are becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated.  Thank goodness! We are no longer accepting the old status quo, pushing for more interactive, person-centered care and therapy.

We’d like to add one more: dementia support groups. They are making a huge difference in improving the emotional health and wellbeing of caregivers. Many memory care communities (we’re one of them) offer free support groups. They are a great way for carers to share stories and support with others who are in similar situations.

All of the above spells good news for those individuals struggling with dementia, and for their loved ones. You can read Anne Ellett’s full newsletter article, complete with details and examples, here.