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I have special expertise in working with elders and my work as a geriatric therapist is built on my view of human life as being a continuous process of growth and development. My career has been devoted to honoring both the joys and challenges in all stages of that process. Transition and loss of loved ones, homes, memory, physical stamina and health may all be part of this process. Much of my work with elders is focused around their adjustments to these changes as they continue to live their lives. I have come to see elderhood as being a particularly honorable time in one’s life journey and I believe it is important to recognize it as such. This is made all the more so by living in a culture that celebrates youth to the detriment of honoring the aging process. 

My Work with Dementia and Memory Loss

Many of my clients or their loved ones are experiencing some level of dementia, from early to advance stages. It is my belief and experience that although dementia causes many changes in brain function and personality structure it does not affect a deeper, unalterable aspect of the person. I work with all my clients from this premise and focus on discerning a pathway into that essential part of each person.  I work to identify the unique modes of communication most effective for each individual. I use a wide range of tools that include life review, sensory awareness, music, art, photographs, nature and humor.

A part of what happens in this process is the growth of a rich bond between my client and me. It is an end-of-life friendship, the essence of which is presence, acceptance and deep listening. This allows for an ongoing relationship that is ever mindful of honoring a person wherever they may be in their unique life process. 

Life Review

In my work as a Life Review therapist I help individuals review, organize and draw meaning from their recollection of their life process. It can be a very calming and grounding experience, one that can include stepping through unfinished business as well as re-experiencing life’s greatest joys. In this process “core stories” emerge and begin to take prominent places in the collage of one’s life. As it takes shape it is inevitable that questions arise in me and the asking can bring forth deeper and more detailed memories.

A time can come in the course of my work with a client who has progressive dementia when they no longer can access their core life stories. Often my familiarity with them and their particular background is very useful in either priming the pump of their life memories or simply telling back the stories that they have so generously shared with me through our visits together. This can restore a sense of peace and meaning. I create both written and photographic memory books to aid in this process.

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