Dr. Patricia (Tia) Powell has a new book, “Dementia Reimagined“. In this refreshing piece of work, Dr. Powell, director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics, shares her experiences with dementia as both caregiver to her mother and physician to her aging patients. Abundantly qualified and credentialed, she finds herself in the unique position to discuss the possibility of joy, dignity and hope while dealing with dementia.
Terry Gross, host of the NPR podcast Fresh Air, had an excellent conversation with Powell. They delve into Powell’s experiences and her outlook for the future of treating dementia patients. You can listen to the podcast yourself (or read the transcript) here.
“Figuring out how to communicate better, how to listen better to people with dementia while they can speak and even potentially afterward to figure out, what could I do? What actually would be helpful, not from my point of view but from yours? What actually would make things better?”
In this poignant interview, they discuss the various tolls that dementia takes on the person. It’s not just memory loss. It can also include depression or anxiety. It’s a disease of the brain, so it also involves loss of “executive function”. That means that making the simplest decisions or even organizing the natural flow of tasks can be daunting. And frustrating.
Managing Dementia With Joy
Dr. Powell views caregiving and dementia through both a medical and a personal lens. My relationship with dementia patients is as their insurance agent, helping them manage their long term care. It’s reassuring that Dr. Powell and I share perspectives on how to optimize the patient’s experience.
During her interview, Dr. Powell offers sound advice on how families can make the most out of a dementia diagnosis. She often uses music as a real comfort to many of her patients. For some reason, the memories we hold from certain songs manages to hold up over time, even in the throes of dementia.
ProTip: Many professionals recommend making a playlist of your favorite songs NOW, while you can think of those chestnuts that light up your heart and bring a smile to your face. They’ll be such a source of joy for you in your later years.
She also suggests other hobbies like gardening might hold the key to reconnecting the patient to activities they once enjoyed.
Powell also shares her thoughts on why keeping the dementia patient at home is not always the best choice. Followers of this blog know that I’ve written about this often over the years. It’s always affirming to hear the experts supporting my views!
At about the 30-minute mark of the podcast, Dr. Powell does a great job explaining what Medicare and Medicaid pays for, and why neither will pay for the type of long term care a dementia patient requires. If you’re like most Americans, her description will clear up many confusing questions you might have.
Manage the Fear with Planning
Dr. Powell stated people are more fearful of getting Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias than they are about getting cancer. I have to agree with this.
While there is no cure for dementia, we can take steps to plan for the best possible care if and when we need it. Make your playlist. Tell your children about your love of gardening or old movies. And click here to receive your free, no-obligation quote for long term care insurance.