Mahendra is part of the new era, where diagnosis isn’t the end;
it’s the beginning.
Five years ago the Alzheimer’s Association entered into a partnership with Intel Corp. to look at how technology might improve some
kinds of dementia care. It signaled a changing perception of individuals with dementia. Dementia may affect some memory processes, but
those losses can be counteracted by tapping into other abilities.
“The person is not just the dementia,” Mahendra says firmly. “It’s
just one part of them.”
This shift in mentality touches every aspect of care for those
with memory loss. The goal is no longer simply the physical
well-being of these individuals; it’s thriving with memory loss,
and doing everything possible to maintain quality of life. Recent
research shows that by providing individuals with dementia with
a sense of security and normalcy – building
in daily routines like helping with laundry
or meal preparation, and having a central
hearth, or “hub,” to congregate – they can
still learn. As the field of memory support
and dementia care embraces this research,
it will create a context for Mahendra’s techniques to be most successful.
A break from the past
Advancing the field of dementia care won’t
be an easy, or quick, transition. It involves a
change in everything from how facilities are
architecturally designed to how intervention
programs are developed and executed.
But it’s necessary, and urgent. Recent statistics show that one in eight persons age 65 and
older have Alzheimer’s disease.
Mahendra holds the Masonic Homes up
as an example of the mindset that caregivers
“Administrators at other places still treated
us with some amount of suspicion and cyni-
cism,” she relays. “But the Masonic Home is
so forward-thinking about these interventions,
and the potential benefits for the residents.”
“It’s a real testament to the success of the
organization that they continue to be inspira-
tional,” she adds.
The Masonic Homes will hopefully inspire
other organizations to rethink their programs,
and help advance the entire field of care. In the
meantime, they’ve inspired one of their own.
Not long after she completed her training with
Mahendra’s team, Gloria sang “The Lady Is a
Tramp” at a Home event. She sent Mahendra a
recording of the occasion.