A Positive Message About Dementia for Families and Professionals

By Kim Warchol | Posted on 11.26.2014 | 1 comments
Hey there! I wanted to conclude my three-part series on all the great opportunities I've had recently by telling you about my presentation at the Memory Loss Conference [PDF], where I shared with families and professionals life-changing information about the 3 C's of Dementia Capable Care. It was incredibly inspiring, and I'm deeply grateful to everyone who's working so hard to better support the people who need us so much.

Watch Part 1 of this three-part series.

Watch Part 2.

Here's a transcript of the video above:

Hi, Kim here! Wanted to tell you about the last event I did this November, which was a wonderful two-day conference in Springfield, IL—the Memory Loss Conference that was put on by the Alzheimer's Association, the Illinois Department on Aging, SIU School of Medicine, and others.

I was so fortunate to be invited to this event, with the first day primarily focusing on educating professionals, and the second day focused on individuals with dementia and families. On both days, I had the opportunity to do keynote presentations, and I tried to take the same theme and just adjust it a little bit for each audience.

The theme was how to create better lives for individuals living with dementia, and how to support those providing care. At each day, I presented on the 3 C's of Dementia Capable Care.

The first C is Can Do. Focus on what individuals with dementia can do, instead of what they can't. That's a very powerful paradigm shift that really helps us take negative labels and observations and turn them into positives. For example, somebody who has dementia is sometimes referred to as a "wanderer." But that person actually CAN walk, and has the desire to engage in their environment. So by putting that positive perspective, we can enable this person to do more.

The second C is Cognitive Level. And I talked about the importance of assessing to discover somebody's cognitive level, and I focused on that a lot in the professional presentation. Discovering somebody's cognitive level through observation, screens, and assessments is very valuable because this tells us what that person's best ability to function at that cognitive level or dementia stage might be, and it helps us understand how we might need to adapt or adjust to enable them to function at their best ability. Understanding somebody's cognitive level is as important as knowing the developmental age of a child. It really is that powerful. It's like a road map.

The third C is providing Compensatory Care. Once we know what that person's cognitive level is, we need to adapt to create the just-right challenge in activities that that person loves and wants to engage in. We need to adapt our approach to gain their understanding, trust, and agreement. And we need to simplify the environment so that we are creating an enabling environment—not disabling.

So I presented on those 3 C's of Dementia Capable Care to both the families and the professional audience. And I think that it really did make a difference. I got some very positive feedback, and I had some learning activities, especially in the professional event, where I saw that there were a lot of light bulbs going off, and I'm sure that these professionals were able to better serve people with dementia as a result of the presentation.

The other two really cool things that came from this conference:

One was being able to network with people who are out there fighting in the trenches every day to create a Dementia Capable Society. One of the groups that was there was the Greater Illinois chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, who we have a partnership with, and spending time with them and talking about what we're doing today and what we want to do better or more of tomorrow to better support individuals with dementia, and to better train the professionals—was just great. The energy that comes from collaborations like that is wonderful.

The other part that was so special was being able to present to hundreds of families and individuals with dementia on Saturday. It was the same topic, and I went over those 3 C's of Dementia Capable Care, and I think what is most important is to be able to share that positive message with these individuals—that those with dementia can successfully coexist with this disease. They can live quality of life. They can engage in meaningful activities at every stage, as long as they have a support network of Dementia Capable Care Partners.

I saw a lot of people dabbing their eyes, shaking their heads, just really connecting with this positive message and this information. And at the end of the conference, one of the family members came up to me and grabbed my hand and she said, "I wish I knew this a couple years ago. It really has enlightened me as to how I can help my loved one lead a better life." And I'm sure that that will make this journey easier for her.

So I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend those two days in Springfield, IL at the Memory Loss Conference with professionals who are really making a tremendous amount of progress in providing better care and better training.

And with those living with dementia, it was my privilege to spend time with you and your loved ones. I hope that my message made a difference, and I can certainly tell you, you made a difference in my life. You inspire me.

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