This post is the third and last installment of my series covering how to therapeutically engage dementia patients. In part 1, we explored the current models of treating the disease, and in part 2, we discussed engaging people with dementia through humor, music, meaningful activities and social interactions.
Another powerful, but often overlooked approach is the use of imagination. The idea is to tap into the capacity for creativity that is often dormant but not gone. Continue reading “Therapeutically Engaging Dementia Patients: Part 3 Using the World of Imagination”
In our last post we delved into the current models for treating dementia patients. As we discussed before, the Salutogenic model emphasizes how to help patients adjust as their abilities change, instead of just treating the symptoms medically. The term “salutogenesis” was coined by Anton Antonovsky, a professor of medical sociology. The term refers to an approach that focuses on factors that support health and well-being, in contrast to factors that cause disease (pathogenesis). In today’s post, we will continue to explore the Salutogenic model, and discuss ways to engage patients through social interactions, meaningful activities, singing and humor. Continue reading “Therapeutically Engaging Dementia Patients Part 2: 3 Ways to Engage Patients with Dementia”
I am a psychologist with 40 years of clinical experience. Although a small portion of that has been spent assessing and treating patients suffering from dementia, my primary interest in the field comes from personal experience. My father, who was also a clinical psychologist, was diagnosed with dementia 14 years before he died at the age of 86. I will never forget the first time that I knew that something was fundamentally wrong. It was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and my mother had asked my father to tie my young nephew’s tie before we left for services. He did a lousy job and she scolded him for it, unaware that his capacity to perform simple tasks had begun to decline. When we returned home, there was no sign of him. My best friend and I walked back to the synagogue and were unable to find him. As we were about to cross the street, my father emerged from a wooded area, still in his suit and covered with brambles. I exclaimed, “Dad, where were you? We have all been so worried!” He replied, “I was mad at your mother”, as though that explained it. In a way, it did, although he could not fully express it. We later surmised that he had felt humiliated by my mother’s admonishment which somehow became a plausible reason for another failure: his disorientation finding his way home on a route that he had walked hundreds of times. Continue reading “Therapeutically Engaging Dementia Patients Part 1: Understanding Current Models”
A few years ago, I attended an inspiring lecture on compassion given by Dr. Christopher Kukk, profession of Political Science at Western Connecticut University. Dr. Kukk mentioned the Syrian refugee crisis and how the heartbreaking photograph of 3 year-old Aylan Kurdi immediately impacted policy. Instead of the news only focusing on crowded boats and borders, this picture of a single child whose body washed up on a Turkish beach humanized the crisis and elicited compassion where there had been relative indifference. Similarly, when the Pope visited the US during this crisis, he called attention to our common humanity, stating “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation”.
Continue reading “What Difference Can Compassion Make?”
Much has been written about the benefits of compassion. Compassion is the emotion that we feel in response to the suffering of others that motivates us to help. Its derivation comes from Latin and it literally means to suffer together with. It is considered to be an adaptively evolved trait as it is essential for human survival (“survival of the kindest”) and has been linked to enhanced physical as well as emotional well-being. Self-compassion is no different except that the recipient is oneself. Instead of reacting to our mistakes, imperfections and disappointments by castigating ourselves, it involves giving ourselves the kindness, understanding and compassion that we would instinctively give a loved one who was in pain. While pain is an inevitable part of life, suffering is characterized by pain and resistance to pain, in other words, fighting vs accepting reality. Continue reading “Quieting My Self-Critic”
For years, Garrison Keillor would introduce his fictitious town, “Lake Wobegon” as a place “where all the men are strong, all the women are good looking and all the children are above average”. Self-esteem has long been regarded as the key to personal well being and happiness. The problem? Self esteem is inherently unstable because it is based on social comparisons and fleeting accomplishments. Continue reading “Self-Compassion: Psychologist Heal Thyself”