cover 1In her ground breaking book, Dr. Lord lays out her vision and strong rationale for why such a profession is sorely needed but fortunately for all of us she doesn’t stop there. As a true pioneer committed to her mission in action, she is leading an unprecedented undertaking to develop and build an educational and coaching infrastructure through her Remembering 4 You Training Institute and the International Caregivers Association (consisting a clear person-directed care philosophy, high standards and set of expectations, and comprehensive training and certification program) that I anticipate will prove essential and highly beneficial to a rapidly growing number of people living with dementia and their family care partners.

With her deeply humanistic approach, Dr. Lord encourages us all to never accept substandard care for this population no matter where it takes place. She accurately identifies the majority of gaps and problems in care for this population as systemic (and uses assisted living residences without adequate regulatory standards and protective measures as one example of a potential systemic failure) and points out that the real solutions should also be identified and implemented at the system level (such as at the highest level of any care organization). She also makes a strong case as to why expecting and respectfully and skillfully demanding to attain and maintain these individuals’ “highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being” in all communities and care settings is a moral and legal human right we should all cherish and protect.

Among other precious resources and useful tools, the book is filled with numerous practical suggestions, skills, tips, and insights (some of which are life-saving) that could be readily applied to improve the quality of care and life of people living with dementia and their family and professional care partners. It also includes real-life moving stories illustrating important but often overlooked educational messages as well as inspiring statements such as “The mind may forget. The heart never will” (p.226) and “Love is an instinct that even a person who is living with Alzheimer’s retains to the end” (228). In addition, informative statistics and findings from various research studies are shared throughout the book.

Dr. Lord’s strong emphasis on seeing close family care partners of people living with dementia as integral and equal partners of every interprofessional team (a commonly overlooked day-to-day care situation) lies at the heart of successful and sustainable efforts to optimize the well being of this population in all care settings. Close collaboration, the tremendous preventative and healing value of teamwork, and effective communication between all members of the interprofessional team (such as in nursing homes and assisted living residences) also receives much needed special attention in the book.

In her book, Dr. Lord does an excellent job in empowering family members of people with dementia to become informed, effective care partners, and advocates for nothing less than dignified and truly person-directed care. As importantly, she addresses the critical but often neglected need to empower, improve the working conditions of, and adequately train the most important employees in the care organization – direct care partners (such as home health aides, nurse aides, and certified nursing assistants). At the same time, Dr. Lord makes it clear that without strong education and commitment of managers and owners of long-term care homes and home health care organizations to person-directed care practices and endless culture change journeys, positive care outcomes are unlikely to be
realized in the long term.

The book is an honest account about the sad realities of low quality of care in a large proportion of care settings serving this population around the world (such as at home, adult day health centers, nursing homes, assisted living residences, and acute and psychiatric hospitals). As part of a growing culture change movement, the book outlines key parameters of high standard of care of people with dementia and the expectation that our society and all those involved in caring for this underserved population should aspire to realize.

Most importantly, the book could prove very useful in reducing the harmful stigma commonly experienced by this population, alleviating the social isolation and feelings of depression experienced by substantial portion of family care partners, and instilling hope in these unrecognized and often invisible heroes that when they receive timely evidence-based guidance, training and emotional supports, their loved ones with dementia will be able live their life to the fullest despite substantial cognitive disabilities. In her personal, direct, and easy to understand way of writing combined with her clear vision for a Dementia Friendly Healthcare Workforce, Dr. Lord shows us the way and we would all be wise to follow her footsteps.

Dr. Lord’s hands-on experiences, extensive knowledge, deep passion and commitment to bringing lasting positive changes in the lives of people living with dementia and their family care partners are strongly felt throughout the book. She clearly has deep appreciation of the fact that the best teachers when it comes to interacting with people with dementia are … people living with dementia. Throughout the book, she reminds us and demonstrates what the late Professor Tom Kitwood, author of the groundbreaking book Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First, taught us 20 years ago:
“People with dementia may have something important to teach the rest of humankind. If we make the venture one of genuine and open engagement, we will learn a great deal about ourselves.”

I hope that you will find this book inspiring, empowering, and useful as I did,

Eilon Caspi, B.S.W., M.A., Ph.D.
Gerontologist & Dementia Behavior Specialist...and Wood Carver
Founder & Director, Dementia Behavior Consulting, LLC
Website: Understand, Raise Awareness, Act!