Dementia is not just another medical diagnosis. How we think about and behave towards people with dementia both have a profound effect on how the condition affects the person and how it develops.
Each individual has social, emotional and spiritual elements which are at least as important as the intellectual. Spending time with people who have dementia challenges us as persons to develop in new ways.
Communication is fundamental to supporting people with dementia. It is at the heart of making and maintaining relationships, and therefore personhood. Nonverbal channels of communication are often more important than language-based communication. Providing opportunities for creative and artistic activity can play a crucial role in self-esteem, confidence, quality of life and communication.
Dementia challenges us to think about time differently, encouraging us to make the most of the present moment and putting less emphasis on the past and the future.
We can learn a great deal about the experience of dementia and the person’s needs directly from those involved. This learning should be the basis for the development of good services.
Providing the best support for the person with dementia means understanding the needs and experiences of those around them too (whether they are family members or paid/volunteer staff).