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The Importance of Seeing People Living with Dementia as People First

April 3, 2014

An article about dementia co-written by PHI Organizational Change Consultant Anna Ortigara was featured in a recent issue of Generations¸ the journal of the American Society on Aging.

The article, written by Ortigara and Rachel Scher McLean of the Green House Project, argues that people living with dementia should be seen as human beings, not merely a collection of worsening symptoms.

“As people move into the middle stages of dementia there is increasing tendency to see only losses and frailties instead of strengths and remaining abilities,” Ortigara and McLean write.

Providing true person-centered care for people living with dementia can be difficult, as it “requires a major reframing of our thought processes,” they continue.
They outline several ways that caregivers can support the abilities and well-being of people with dementia.

In addition, Ortigara and McLean highlight the Green House Project model as a best practice for dementia care, as it emphasizes each individual’s right to determine their own life’s meaning.

In the Green House Model, the person living with dementia “is recognized as a whole person and a full member of the intentional community,” they write.

“In the Green House model, it is understood that the person with dementia is constantly communicating needs and wishes, and that staff and care partners must take the time to recognize, understand, and meet their needs,” they continue.

Ortigara and McLean’s article was published in the Fall 2013 issue of Generations, which is devoted to person-centered care for people living with dementia.

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