Help Habilitate Persons With Dementia and Their Families

Hey there! Kim here—back with a new video blog, this one about the importance of habilitation for individuals with dementia and their families. Habilitation is a growing concept, and it essentially means working with the remaining abilities that an individual has available at every stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s the process of equipping a person and her family with the means to be as safe, happy, and functional as possible on a day-to-day basis. Please watch the video below to learn more about why we need to create this kind of support network for families and individuals—and how we as health professionals and care partners must have the skills and the perspective to provide this kind of care that helps people with Alzheimer’s to thrive. Because all of us—occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, nurses—all of us can and should be in the lives of these folks, supporting them and helping them so they can manage day to day.




Here’s a transcript of “Help Habilitation Grow for Families With Dementia”:


Hi, Happy Friday! Kim here. I just got back from the hairdresser—what do you think, by the way? New ‘do! Just got back from my hairdresser and during my visit, she was telling me about some of the clients that she has and some of the challenges her clients are having in their day-to-day lives. They have loved ones who have Alzheimer’s and they’re struggling to figure out how to get through each day, and I was just driving home and I thought, “Man, you know, it still is so upsetting to me to think that for other diseases in our country, like cancer or cardiac problems, we have these care centers who not just make a diagnosis, but who are really there to envelop the person with the disease and their families with support and guidance.”


And it’s just amazing to me that we don’t have that kind of system of support set up for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. What’s even more amazing to me, and I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I just can’t stop thinking about it—is when I’m hearing these stories of a family having a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, and that family struggling with “What do I do on a day-to-day basis to help my mom or my dad or my spouse to be safe, to be happy, to be as functional as possible?” When I hear those stories, I’m wondering, where are the occupational therapists? Where are the speech and language pathologists? Where are the nurses, who can and should be in the lives of these folks, supporting and helping them?


You know, there’s this concept out there, that’s growing, which is great, called habilitation. It’s not rehabilitation, in which we try to fix a problem in order to restore function or health; it’s habilitation, which really means working with what this person has left, or the capacities or abilities that they still have available to them at every stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia. And that concept is really growing, and you see it growing a lot more in the area of developmental disabilities.


We’re trying to promote that same concept when it comes to helping people with Alzheimer’s. Let’s help to provide a habilitative approach. Let’s help them use those remaining abilities so that they can still lead a quality life at home, while getting the support that they need from their loved ones and from others so that they can manage day to day, and they can still be a part of the community, and a part of life.


So every day that we go out there and do another training program—training another therapist, a nurse, a nursing aide, an administrator—makes me feel really good, but oh my, we have so much further to go! And it is my wish one day that all people with Alzheimer’s and their families will be able to get immediately connected to this type of support network. Having those health professionals with the skills, perspective, and knowledge available to them to help make their day better and easier as a caregiver, to help them through the emotions of this experience, and to help their loved one with Alzheimer’s to thrive. That is my wish. Thank you; have a great Friday. Thanks for listening!


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