Changing how we think about, care for those living with dementia

January is Alzheimer’s Consciousness Month – a possibility for DementiAbility to proceed spreading data domestically about dementia

When Gail Elliot retired from her profession in gerontology at McMaster College greater than 10 years in the past, she opened a brand new door, one to create higher days for these dwelling with dementia. Her aim was to reshape the best way individuals assume — particularly these caring for individuals with dementia — and allow them to care in another way, too.

She did simply that, after which some; retirement has been successful.

Elliot is the founder and chief government officer of DementiAbility Enterprises Inc. Figuring out of her household dwelling, she mixed a wealth of analysis {and professional} expertise to create a brand new system of instruments and assets to empower care companions and create a world the place individuals assume in another way about dementia. She developed assets, instruments and handouts that she has handed on to professionals, households and organizations. She additionally holds greater than 100 workshops annually, all all over the world.

The Burlington resident knew firsthand how troublesome it’s to know dementia behaviours: she was her mother’s (Peggy Lewington) devoted care companion till her dying in 2018.

January is Alzheimer’s Consciousness Month, a possibility for Elliot to proceed to unfold data about dementia and be the voice to assist these dwelling with dementia to be the most effective they are often.

In Canada alone, an estimated three-quarters of 1,000,000 individuals have been identified with dementia.

For Elliot, the problem is about altering adverse views about dementia into optimistic ones. When a liked one or buddy has dementia, it’s necessary for them to have positives of their life. Slightly than have a look at what they “can’t do,” Elliot desires them to give attention to the issues they “can do,” so they’re inspired and enabled; dwelling higher days quite than days dealing with failures.

Whereas reminiscence loss is essentially the most talked about facet of dementia, Elliot’s aim is to assist individuals give attention to progressive methods to help that decline and have interaction talents which were spared, to assist make life value dwelling.

DementiAbility is being taught by others as nicely, together with Niagara School’s Christine Wilkinson, co-ordinator of the school’s Recreation Remedy Program. Wilkinson has been instructing DementiAbility to second-year college students for six years in her program, Therapeutic Approaches to an Ageing Inhabitants.

The response has been unimaginable, Wilkinson stated, noting the businesses that make use of the high-demand graduates touch upon the excessive stage of abilities and data from the hands-on coaching on dementia they’ve. One pupil shared this e mail with Wilkinson:

“I had an interview…and used so lots of the ideas I discovered within the DementiAbility workshop. Asking an older gentleman for assist with one thing with the intention to encourage their involvement, using their previous occupation, validating his emotions, having a consumer educate me one thing with the intention to make them really feel profitable. It was fantastic. Inform these college students it is likely one of the Most worthy ideas I’ve discovered thus far. Will be utilized with any inhabitants and age. They need to pay shut consideration and soak it up for the whole lot it’s value.”

That’s precisely the aim of its CEO.

Elliot has authored a number of books, together with the sequence, Carry On Studying in Dementia. These books characteristic giant fonts, easy-to-read materials and matters supposed to create dialogue amongst readers and permit them to share reminiscences, equivalent to memorable ladies, tv historical past, and films.

One other of her books, Let’s Chat…Some Extra! is a useful resource to create dialogue with older adults. For instance: if somebody supplied to show you to fly a aircraft, would you need to be taught? These collections of one-sentence prompts create a place to begin for on a regular basis conversations.

Elliot has created workbooks assist improve the mind. Her analysis has confirmed that cognitive capability might be enhanced when the mind is stimulated. Easy workout routines in spelling in her workbooks assist to do exactly that. One other ebook permits individuals to fill in info about their lives together with photographs from the previous and

Her reminiscence help books assist these with dementia to recollect their life story, find gadgets, or use reminiscence cues to immediate actions, equivalent to getting dressed, or doing issues, equivalent to going to the washroom, in sequence.


Elliot’s analysis as assistant director in McMaster’s gerontological research offered her with all of the paper research she wanted to create all these instruments and packages.

“My aim was to attach analysis with coverage and apply,” she stated, including that as we speak’s applied sciences (together with on-line conferences) have given her the posh of connecting with researchers world-wide.

“I wished to take the science from the bookshelves to the apply setting. The aim is to allow them to reside with which means, pleasure, objective, excessive shallowness, selection, dignity and enhanced independence.”

It’s all about enabling.

One device that does simply that’s the ‘Wow Mannequin’ because it helps individuals be taught concerning the particular person. Who, (previous and current), Observations (what is occurring with individual, why these behaviours) and What (will you do) W+O = W.  Basically a life story reminiscence financial institution, it will probably assist stimulate reminiscences, and open up the strains of communication between the individual with dementia and people offering help and care.

It’s not simply theoretical, it’s apply. It teaches care companions to assume in another way primarily based on wants, pursuits, abilities and skills.

“The aim is to reside with studying and objective. What jobs and duties can we give this individual to do within the current?” Elliot stated. “Once we allow talents we determine easy methods to have interaction them in life.”

Conserving artistic 

One other device in her kits is colouring books that characteristic shapes and designs printed on a black background to get rid of the prospect of colouring exterior the strains, even when the individual colouring has shaky palms.

Elliot’s analysis has confirmed that protecting artistic may help to stimulate the mind and preserve general well being. Teaming up with Artistic Artwork Co., she developed quite a lot of reminiscence help templates to supply care companions a wide range of reminiscence cues to assist these combating reminiscence loss. As well as, and with Artistic Artwork Co., she helps new long-term care services create properties that can assist with boredom, consideration span and preserve individuals secure in a spot that’s nicely thought out.

As an illustration, exit doorways are painted to appear like bookshelves whereas robotic dolls can replicate issues like caring for an toddler. “We create the look, the texture and the odor of dwelling. There are completely different doorways for each room. The phrase that guides us is dignity. There’s a motive for all of the designs. We create an atmosphere that creates optimistic outcomes.”

Most not too long ago, Elliot labored with Mohawk School to create the Phrases and Knowledge app for the iPad. It’s a easy, but efficient device to interact individuals dwelling with dementia.

The necessity to do extra

Elliot wish to have DementiAbility trainers in each Native Well being Integration Community (LHIN). She has trainers in British Columbia, Manitoba, England and has helped well being care businesses so far as Taiwan.

She desires to do extra. She’d like DementiAbility to be a part of the curriculum of private help staff, amongst others.

“Everybody wants this workshop. We educate everyone from the dietary employees, upkeep, housekeeping, it’s whole-person and it’s whole-team.

“We admire the whole lot these employees members are doing,” she stated, including when she holds a workshop for front-line staff, it helps to reconnect their ardour for what received them into that work to start with. “We have now an superior group of care suppliers who have to really feel valued.

“There isn’t any simple button,” she added. “There’s a system that requires the proper schooling and the proper instruments and the employees, and if they’re keen to place it into apply, that’s the formulation.”

A formulation the place the aim of life is a life with objective.

“That’s what I’d prefer to see. They’re going to reside and be the most effective they are often till they die.”

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