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Therapeutically Engaging Dementia Patients Part 2: 3 Ways to Engage Patients with Dementia

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”

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Therapeutically Engaging Dementia Patients Part 1: Understanding Current Models

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”