It is no secret that we are all different characters. There are also many different types of Dementia which can occur at many different ages to all types of people from all backgrounds, there is no magic bullet, one therapy or pharmacological product that will fit all. We have to approach each individual individually.
When a loved one with Dementia is described as “lost” I get really hot and bothered, they are not “lost”, just maybe their character is more challenging to find. Shattered mirror pieces can still reflect, perhaps only a fragment but it can still achieve that. You can find them! http://alzconnectlamesa.com/alzheimers-and-rementia-theory/ and http://dodgepark.com/faq/rementia-vs-dementia/
Life Story Work, in all its forms (http://www.lifestorynetwork.org.uk/ ) and loved music (please remember, music is like Marmite: some love it, some hate it) are the best ways to access the character inside. Usually the Life Story is a written document, almost formulaic: where born, school, family etc. and sometimes contains photos. Many people with Dementia will need Support to view this work, indeed it may well be out of their reach as it is such an important document, care homes may keep them in an office. Unless the originator of the Life Story is a gifted writer it will have a clinical feel to it, added to which how many care homes – or carers – can give the time (or patience) for Support to read this document time and again?
Enter Digital Life Stories: combining personal photos (approx 70), 2D memorabilia (Valentine cards, wedding invitations, etc) and loved music as a background; set into storyline order and burnt onto a digital device so that it can be viewed on a large TV screen, say, if the hero or heroine has sight challenges, or a tablet screen if not. These can be viewed on a “loop” so that the story on the selected device can revolve unaided. Digital Life Stories have been proved time and again to be of great benefit, reducing anxiety and depression and even a tool for Rementia (see above).
The compilation of Digital Life Stories can be undertaken by any computer literate person, utilising basic computer software already available on all (I believe) computers (for complete information on this please refer to http://www.bfobrca.org/digital-life-stories/ ) – I am trying to encourage grandchildren to bond with their grandparents to scan and compile Digital Life Stories as they have a vested interest to hear family stories which otherwise may be forgotten! Some examples: goo.gl/V8xwFe, goo.gl/2XnA5v, goo.gl/3leHxX There is, however, specialist software available http://mylifesoftware.com/home but I am not aware of how it works.
Please give it a go – and if you have any difficulties do contact me, free of charge – these Life Stories not only encourage person-centred-care, but bring smiles and laughter to the heroes and heroines of the stories, their relatives and friends and future family for generations!