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Eden Alternative Tip of the Week

From an Interview with Dr. Al Power by Beyond the Myth, a blog website located at www.themythofalzheimers.com.

Question: As many of our readers either care for loved ones with dementia, or are in the caregiving field, it would be helpful if you could provide some insight into the “humanistic” and “enlightened” practices you discuss in the book.

Dr. Power: There are many examples, as I apply the framework of my model to a variety of care scenarios. But a central humanistic tenet follows Tom Kitwood’s charge that we acknowledge of the personhood of each individual and their capacity for growth and engagement through all stages of life, and all stages of dementia.

Here’s an example of how we can be more enlightened: When people in the nursing home “wander”, we used to restrain them, but now we use wander alerts, create circular pathways, use signs on doors and better lighting to create a safer place. We think we have become more enlightened. We haven’t.

I encourage care partners to replace the term “wandering” (suggesting purposeless activity) with “searching”, and then ask, “What are they searching for?” Often it’s some connection, some relationship, something that has personal meaning in an environment that offers none. So by providing the stop signs, circular paths, fenced-in courtyards and alarmed doors, we have merely created a safe place for the person to be lost and searching for the rest of their lives. We’ve missed the larger need.

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