Vicky Pitner is a CTRS, Certified Dementia Practitioner, and Memory Care Consultant and Trainer and has been a champion for supporting people living with dementia and their families for over 40 years in both clinical and community settings. Recognizing that early intervention is key to maintaining a life of quality and that the stigma of dementia, for the individual and the family, is the most significant barrier for families to not seek help prior or after a dementia diagnoses, she developed "Friends and Family Approach to Living with Neurocognive Disorders: Providing Support with L.O.V.E.”
Vicky believes that by shifting the paradigm of treatment from the Medical Model and treating symptoms with medication to using a more Social Model and ecopsychosocial approach to treatment and supporting individuals and their family and friends. Breaking the stigma of "suffering from dementia" and start “living with dementia," family members can stop identifying as a “caregiver”and maintain relationships as a spouse, daughter, son, or friend. Identifying as a "caregiver" can create an imbalance of power and unhealthy relationships. Providing choices, encouraging autonomy, showing respect, and taking a strengths based approach by modifying tasks, can ensure success and is key to shared joyful experiences.
By exploring the differences in the Medical Model and the Social Model to treating memory loss and the other challenges in a dementia diagnosis, you and your loved one can decide which approach is best for your family. Maintaining physical functioning can lead to the ability to care for yourself longer, and studies show that attributes to quality of life for both the individual and the family.
Shifting the paradigm in the treatment of dementia
People living with memory loss can lead a life of quality, but it requires a commitment from friends and families to learn and practice new skills. It is our job to speak so they understand, listen so they feel understood, and maintain healthy relationships so they want to share, and engage and stay connected.
It's time to stop tippy-toeing around the stigma of dementia and start living an engaging life!