Self Identity

Haircare and Dementia

Maintaining our personal appearance can be an important part of our self identity.  It also affects how others interact with us.    Looking after our hair  forms part and parcel of our daily grooming routine.   It may also be cut, styled, coloured and permed on a less regular basis.    It’s occurred to me, whilst…

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Doing A Good Job with Dementia

It was heartwarming to read the story of  Yvonne Salomon.  She was supported by Sainsburys,  to continue working for nearly five years after her diagnosis of  early onset Alzheimer’s disease   As the skills of this bookkeeper changed, her managers met regularly with Mrs Salomon and her husband for welfare updates.  Over time they made informed changes to her working…

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Memory and Emotion: A Reflection

For a long time I’ve suspected that memories of people with dementia are sustained by those attached to strong emotions.    For instance I was working with a lady with advanced Alzheimer’s disease who struggled even  to remember the names of family members.  She’d had strong connections to a country where there had been a major disaster…

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Making Sure That A Person’s Voice is Heard After a Dementia Diagnosis

It’s all too easy for people to lose confidence after they receive a diagnosis of dementia and withdraw from the world around them.   Some of the insecurity might come  because they do not trust their own judgement or abilities anymore.   Embarrassing or upsetting interactions with others who lack the necessary awareness to engage with a person with dementia respectfully…

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Why Life Story Work is Important for People with Dementia

Past experiences including significant  relationships,  where we have lived, our family, cultural and spiritual  backgrounds and the roles and activities we have sustained all go towards making us the individual that we are today.   As such it is my personal view is that life story work  carried out in a way that is carefully tailored to an individual’s personal preference is essential…

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The Meaning of Handbags for People with Dementia

I’ve recently read an article by Christina Buse and Julia Twigg from the University of Kent, ‘ Women with dementia and their handbags:  Negotiating identity, privacy and ‘home’ through material culture’.  Although it’s an academic piece of writing it’s expressed in language that’s  easy to understand.  It’s a fascinating study and I’d encourage others to read the original article…

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Make Up and Dementia: Using Cosmetics Therapeutically

Fascinating research has been reported from Japan on the use of cosmetic therapy where participants have been taught how to apply make up.  One academic study indicates that  it might slow down cognitive decline for women with dementia in its early stages.  While this research failed to demonstrate a positive effect for women in the later stages of dementia another project indicates that it could be beneficial.   Residents…

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Downsizing Into a Care Setting: Taking What Matters

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:7 This is an undeniable truth from the Bible that crosses religious boundaries.  Yet it occurred to me that often the process of preparing to leave this world with no possessions often starts well before death.  A person…

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Reality Orientation Revisited: A Seasonal Approach

I was first introduced to working with people with dementia nearly twenty years ago as a student.   ‘Reality orientation’,   providing information about the person, time and place to compensate for their lack of ability to orientate themselves  was a trendy concept back then.  Many hospital wards  made a half-hearted attempt at implementing this approach by providing a…

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