“More than 5 million people in America currently have some form of dementia, a number expected to rise to 13.8 million by 2050.” As Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, US Department of Health and Human Services, says, “The numbers capture our attention. But it’s the number one that captures our hearts. To most of us, dementia is about a loved one.” While a large part of the work to date on dementia has been to find a cure, however there is a larger story to explore– one of improving the lives of those who have dementia and the people caring for them. Generations, the quarterly journal of the American Society on Aging, devoted their Fall 2013 issue is devoted entirely to Person-Centered Care for people with dementia.
By focusing this publication on Person-Centered Care, the importance of a holistic approach to dementia is highlighted. Sam Fazio, director of Special Projects, for the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, and guest editor of the Generations issue, discusses the power of words in how they influence our perceptions of people, “very simply, words affect thoughts and, ultimately actions…The loss of memory is not equal to the loss of self. If someone thinks of a person with dementia as someone without a self– they think of him or her as not being a person.”
Green House Project team members contributed an article called, ” Seeing the Person First: Living with Moderate-Stage Dementia” . Drawing from experts in the field, this article emphasizes, “To keep seeing the person as creative, resourceful and whole requires a major reframing of our thought processes.” By seeing the person, not just as a stage in a disease, but rather as an individual through the framework of their physical and emotional health, environment and care partner relationship, there is potential to create well-being.
The Green House Project is an evidence based model that returns control, dignity and a sense of well-being to elders living with dementia. By transforming the environment, organizational structure and philosophy of long term care, the elder is placed at the center of the model where they can grow and thrive. To learn more, visit: http://thegreenhouseproject.org/green-house-model/overview