[Certificate I received from Dementia Friends Indiana, Photo credit: Yunjin Huh]
On April 15 (EST), I participated in an information session hosted by the University of Indiana to learn about dementia and the different ways those with the disorder can be supported.
The session was held online through Zoom and was led by a Ph.D. and professor of Indiana University.
Like a few other students in the session, I participated in the session from Korea as a new learning opportunity.
We were introduced to an initiative called “Dementia Friends Indiana,” which works to help those suffering from dementia.
In August 2017, Indiana was the 10th state to begin laying the groundwork for building dementia-friendly communities.
Dementia Friends Indiana was one of these communities.
Before demonstrating how to become a “dementia friend,” the session provided an introduction to dementia.
The professor explained that dementia is different from the normal cognitive decline that occurs as people age, and is thus not always associated with age.
Unlike normal cognitive decline, which causes infrequent memory problems, dementia causes continuous memory loss that disrupts people’s daily lives and also leads to the loss of the ability to do basic, routine tasks. Early symptoms of dementia include lack of awareness related to the day, date, or time and trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships.
We were then told about the key message of Dementia Friends Indiana.
The professor explained that it is possible to have a good quality of life with dementia if those who suffer from the condition have people to support them.
Additionally, she said even though someone may have dementia, that person is still a valuable member of the community.
To help ensure that dementia patients are respected as a part of the community, we were given communication tips, including offering comfort and reassurance, avoiding criticism, and avoiding arguments.
Instead of telling those with dementia that they are incorrect, we should listen to what they say and find the meaning in their words.
It was also emphasized that arguments may cause agitation for those with dementia and worsen their symptoms.
Finally, we conducted a simulation of how to help those with dementia by writing a step-by-step guide on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
To provide instructions on even the smallest actions, the guide required nearly 40 steps.
This simulation reinforced the importance of support and guidance for those with dementia.
Overall, the session was a valuable experience.
Given my interest in psychology, I believe this was an opportunity to deepen my understanding in this field.
I can use the knowledge I obtained through this session when helping those in my community who are living with dementia.
Chadwick International School
Yunjin Huh email@example.com
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