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Caregivers, Dementia, Families

Looking Past COVID-19 for People with Dementia

Happy mother and son at home

From Our Memory Care Program Director

With all the focus these days on COVID-19 including its effect on our older adult population and those with dementia, I want to share a slightly different perspective by outlining an example of evolvement in how we think about those with dementia and suggest how this change in thinking has the potential to be of significant benefit after this crisis has subsided.

Within the last year or so, media reports have highlighted various restaurants and other businesses across the country catering specifically to those with dementia. These businesses have instituted training (at a relatively low cost) for their employees teaching them how to become, in effect, dementia-friendly workers instructing them about the disease and how to communicate with customers who have dementia. While it is too early to call this a trend, enough businesses prior to COVID-19 had instituted this training to make it at least a very encouraging development.

Now, of course, with a virtual shutdown of in-person retail and restaurant commerce throughout the country, it is difficult to imagine what the business landscape will look like on the other side. My grand proposal, however, is that those businesses who are able to survive over the next six months to a year will see the convergence of a good business opportunity with a socially conscious approach to engaging customers with dementia.

With approximately 5.5 million individuals in the United States diagnosed as having some form of dementia, training employees on how to work with these individuals presents itself as a win-win situation for both the business, who can cultivate new or sustain existing customers, and those with dementia themselves who ideally will be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

While all of us are uncertain about what the future will bring, especially during days like these, where most every piece of news brings additional stress, fear, and anxiety, it is important to advocate for a view of what could be rather than what is. I hope you agree.

My best to you. Thank you for what you do. Be Well.

Scott Tolan

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