Engaging People With Dementia: One Family’s Journey

One of the most devastating aspects of dementia is the loss of connection to others and to self. Since individuals with dementia lack the ability to initiate conversations or actions, it is often assumed that they no longer have an inner life. Without stimulation or engagement, they continue to decline. This workshop helps health care providers, caretakers and families foster greater connection in their interactions with their patient or loved one.

Participants will learn to:

  • Activate interpersonal connection using the individual’s life experience, humor and music.
  • Learn strategies to maximize engagement with demonstrations from video and film
  • Provide increased stimulation through social interactions with visitors and staff, or interactions with a baby or a pet.
  • Describe activities to foster engagement that require less caretaker time to implement and mitigate boredom, feelings of isolation and decrease the need for medication to reduce agitation or distress.

This presentation was given at Connecticut Valley Hospital in 2014, and has been given at several state and national conferences as well as assisted senior living facilities. It will be featured at the annual Connecticut Dental Association conference in May 2018. It was inspired by Dr. Lisa Berzins’ parents’ ability to adapt, grow and transform even when faced with her father’s decline in functioning. Not only is this a tribute to their relationship, it is inspired by a wish to share their legacy so that others may learn and benefit from their experience.

Obesity: A Deadly Risk, Barcroft TV

This video is an excerpt from a documentary that first aired on The Discovery Channel in 2000. It features Dr. Lisa Berzins’ “Challenging Fattitudes” presentation using a “fat suit” disguise to examine prejudicial attitudes based on size, increase tolerance for a variety of body sizes and shapes and reduce stigmatization, bullying and teasing beginning in elementary school. It has been given in numerous elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, corporations as well as local and national television. It has also been highlighted in many publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Hartford Courant.