Care-givers learn to cope with dementia

Coping with dementia is possible.
That was the message Dr. Cameron Camp offered more than 65 health-care providers gathered at La Place Rendez-Vous on Friday morning for a conference called “Coping with Dementia.”
Professional care-givers from across the region, including Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, and Virginia, Mn., were on hand to hear Dr. Camp discuss ways to improve the lives of patients with dementia as well as those of their care-givers.
The two-day conference, which wraps up here Saturday, is being presented by the district mental health services for older adults program, which is sponsored by the Fort Frances branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Dr. Camp, an applied cognitive aging psychologist from Ohio, urged care-givers to put themselves in their patients’ shoes.
“Always ask why is this happening,” he said. “And the answer cannot be because they have dementia.”
Dr. Camp explained patients, like everyone, just are trying to cope with the situation they’re in. And he said looking at a situation through their eyes often can get to the root of a problem.
Actually looking for solutions to issues with treating dementia patients defies conventional wisdom, Dr. Camp admitted. Health-care workers have been trained to “bite the bullet” and not expect any improvement in patients because dementia is a debilitating disorder.
“It’s learned helplessness on a system-wide scale,” he argued.
Dr. Camp believes that by examining each particular issue, asking why it is happening and looking for practical solutions can improve the lives of patients and care-givers alike.
On Saturday, the conference will focus on helping families and care-givers cope with the problems associated with dementia.
The public is invited to attend, with pre-registration slated from 8-9 a.m. at the Rendez-Vous. The cost for registration is $25.