I’m still me!

//I’m still me!

I’m still me!

Part of my private practice involves working with individuals who are learning to manage the early symptoms of dementia while living at home.  I help them to maintain their cognitive skills and ability to care for themselves, encourage them to exercise, eat well, and maintain their social lives, and we work together to make modifications to their homes that will help them to successfully age in place.    We talk about the importance of choosing to start each day with a positive attitude and to recognize and appreciate all of the little gifts our life brings.

I also spend a lot of time listening; I want to know how they feel about having dementia.

Recently, one of my clients shared with me an experience that was very scary and frustrating for her.  Tears came to her eyes as she conveyed her simple, yet rather heart-breaking story.  My friend was getting ready to meet a longtime friend for lunch.  She was supposed to wait outside of her apartment building on the side walk.   Her husband was out running errands. She was eagerly anticipating this outing and dressed herself in one of her favorite sweaters and matching jewelry.  All was going well until it was time to leave.  She could not remember how to put on her coat.  She had several coats from which to choose, but no, she could not remember how to put on any of them.  Anxiety over took her.  It was cold out, she had to wait outside, and there was no one home to help her put on her coat.  “I’m still me,” she said to me “but I couldn’t figure out how to put on my coat.”

If you live or work with people with dementia, please be patient and compassionate.  Realize they are going through a silent struggle each day, in which even the simplest tasks can seem daunting.  Remember that inside, they are still the person you know and love.

By | 2017-11-10T13:12:34+00:00 November 10th, 2017|dementia|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for SpeechPathology.com. Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.
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