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Personal Identity and Dementia

Personal Identity and Dementia

March 1, 2024

Who we are is important. When a person has dementia that sense of who we are may diminish. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and behavior changes. Imagine not being able to recognize or remember who your family is, what your hobbies are, or where you live? Add background sounds and tunnel vision. It’s not ideal.

Familiarity and routine are helpful. For those with dementia a long-term (past) memory is often easier to recall than short-term (more recent) memory. Depending on your loved one’s disease progression they may be reverting to their early years, therefore everyone and everything around them is unknown territory. You can determine this by observing and asking them questions. Start by asking how old they are, this will cue you to the next questions to ask and how to help. Keep it cool and calm, do not correct their answers, do reassure them. Use their answers to establish familiarity and routine. If you have pictures, music, memorabilia, knick-knacks, or stories from that time frame, share it with them. This helps them with their identity and creates comfort.

Jane’s Place understands the identity needs of someone living with dementia. Each participant at Jane’s Place has a social evaluation form on file for staff to reference. This social evaluation is completed by the participant and their family caregiver, and includes information about the participant’s family, education, career, hobbies, and favorites (past and present). This information is utilized to help participants acclimate, ease anxiety, and bring joy while in attendance at Jane’s Place.

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