I remember my first encounter with dementia, it was in the late 1990's around Christmas time sitting with my great grandmother at her house in Rossville Kansas. I had given her a dancing and singing Santa and throughout our visit she would say "Oh this is nice, where did it come from", as young boy I started thinking "she has asked me this 100 times how many times and I going to have to tell her". I continued to notice things that were out of character, including when I gave her a hug good-bye and she told me I was cute and asked who I was. That was a long ride home for my grandma and grandpa, as I was asking a million questions as they tried to explain to me that my great grandma had Alzheimer's Disease. This fascinated me and I found myself throughout the remainder of my school years researching dementia any chance I got. It was then in college that my 'young vibrant grandma' started showing signs of dementia and I feared the day that she would not recognize me. After my grandma died my grandpa gave me the dancing and singing Santa as a reminder of where it all began, and now one of my most cherished items!
My years of hands on experience working in Long Term Care fostered even more of a passion to help those affected by Alzheimer's Disease. I often think that this career path chose me, I did not chose it. I feel that I was given a gift of being able to communicate with folks that others may find difficult. I am a big believer in providing person centered care and that approach can at times be the most important thing when communicating, especially an individual with dementia. A diagnosis doesn't have to feel like life is over, rather there is more to life to live.
Together we can fight to find a cure!