Reflecting on Our Approaches to Dementia

More and more of our residents are faced with some form of dementia. Even as the incidences of dementia are dropping (better control of vascular dementia because of better control of hypertension, cholesterol, and lower incidence of diabetes), the prevalence of the disease is rising in terms of sheer quantity (population growth, increased life expectancy, and the baby boom bulge).

We are now challenged as recreation professionals to look for creative ways to provide stimulating programs that are within the grasp of the person’s abilities.

The good news is new program innovations and approaches are unfolding quickly. However, this too presents an obvious new set of challenges – finding the time and resources to focus on what we think will have the most positive impact for the individual resident.

In the midst of all of this, we feel compelled to add to the complexity – to give you another perspective to reflect on, relative to your programming approach in response to this dementia dilemma.

What are you doing as a recreation programmer to dispelling myths about dementia through education, and to promoting and providing preventative measures for those who don’t have dementia, or are experiencing early signs?

This recent article in Newsweek focuses on the work of neuropsychologist and researcher Dr. John DenBoer which provides a brief overview of some of the myths, realities, and positive interventions that people can and should take in response to concerns about dementia. A combination of aerobic and cognitive exercises and healthy eating are crucial to cognitive well-being.

Dr. DenBoer is encouraging people to take personal responsibility for their own health care. We believe that as recreation professionals, we can support and augment this awareness through education of residents and families, as well as reflecting these practices in our own program offerings.

So while there is still not a cure for the crippling disease process of the various dementias, as recreation professionals we must make the time to reflect and act on our roles in the potential prevention and or slowing of the dementia process.

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