Updated: Sep 2
Analogies can be incredibly helpful when used to explain something as complex as dementia. There are so many layers and elements to consider regarding the disease.
Some commonly used analogies to help people understand dementia are:
A bookcase in a storm
File folders in the drawer of a filing cabinet
Layers of an onion
The Tree Analogy is an analogy I love to use when giving educational presentations and training. I developed this analogy to bring to light honoring an individual's life experiences and continued meaningful contributions to the lives of others.
The Leaves and Branches:
Leaves and branches symbolize the many different common characteristics and challenges of dementia including:
Changes in mood
Memory loss is typically the first thing that comes to mind when someone hears the word dementia. However, we know that dementia is so much more than memory loss. To support individuals and their families coping with dementia, we need to take a holistic approach to care. We need to dive deeper than just the dementia characteristics and look at the "roots" of what makes an individual who they are.
Dementia does not define a person. Roots symbolize the many facets of a person's life that care partners and healthcare professionals must prioritize to dig deep into and get to know to enhance the quality of life of the individual and make meaningful human connections. For example:
Dementia has its own "seasons" of the disease progression. Some new characteristics will present themselves, some will get worse, and some will fade. Through this progression, care partners and healthcare professionals must continue to honor the "roots" of the individual living with the disease.
The Gifts and Purpose
Trees give off the oxygen we need to breathe and provide fruit, flowers, and shade. Over time, dementia will change aspects of the interactions we have with our loved ones, but that does not change the gifts they have given us and the gifts they will continue to give us. As the disease progresses to the later stages, we can continue to make meaningful connections through things such as reminiscing about fond memories, looking through old photos, enjoying music together, and slowing down and being present.
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By: Jessie Hillock, M.A. CCC-SLP, CDP
Dementia Navigation Coach & Consultant
Certified Dementia Practitioner
Jessie works with families facing memory loss and cognitive challenges across the United States as the owner and founder of The Memory Compass. She is an expert in dementia care, a certified dementia practitioner, and has a background in geriatric speech-language pathology. Jessie helps families navigate dementia challenges through memory loss navigation consultations and dementia coaching. Through these sessions, Jessie equips families with creating solutions to their challenges, saves them time and energy, and reduces the overwhelm by developing their own individualized action plan for now and proactively for the future. If you want to learn more about Jessie's work supporting individuals and families living with memory loss, schedule a free 15-minute discovery call today! Click the button below.