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Rementia (yes, as opposed to dementia) is not a new concept. It goes from the understanding that people living with neurocognitive impairment can learn new things through the neuroplasticity of the brain. In simple terms, the brain can and will create new neurological pathways as long as it is stimulated. Atrophy of the brain, in whatever disease, is usually only partial, and in microscopically small areas of the brain. This will affect function, as per that particular area of the brain, leaving the rest of the brain intact.

The sad thing about being a person living with dementia is that whilst only a very small part of the brain is usually affected, the ENTIRE person is affected by the way that they are suddenly treated and labelled after a diagnosis. Very little attention is paid to other abilities, or to growth in any sphere of life, let alone brain development. Even sadder is that a person living with dementia will not respond to rementia unless they are in an environment where there is respect for the ENTIRE being, recognition of who they are (and have been) and TRUST that they are a capable person whose consciousness is not affected.

So often, the minute a diagnosis has been secured, the conversation turns to planning for the downhill race. The person is framed and positioned within the de cit discourse of what they cannot do, rather than building on what they can do and learning new strategic coping mechanisms. The de cit discourse will rob them of the ability to grow new neurological pathways, as well as of their dignity. When they start feeling less con dent and make “mistakes” (not doing things the way WE want them to do it), their self-image will be eroded, and they will withdraw and become less and less willing to take the risks associated with learning.

Our first question after diagnosis should be “How can we help you to grow?” Yes, grow!

Often people will fall into a devastating depression after a diagnosis, which is totally understandable. However, if there is a clear pathway to growth, and the focus is on learning skills and techniques that will enable greater independence, this depression will soon lift. Constructive change can be liberating for the person living with dementia. Take off the cupboard doors so that they can easily see where things are, always leave a light on in the bathroom and the door open, and label photographs with names and places (instead of asking “Do you still know where this was?” or “who is that in the photograph – do you remember?”).

There are so many ways to create a supportive environment that will restore con dence and encourage autonomy. It all starts with the way in which we frame the narrative. It is not dif cult to do, simply be mindful that every word and gesture is aimed at empowering, and not at DEmentia. REmentia says “I can learn new things, I am a capable person with new and different needs, I can grow, I can flourish.” Try it.

Feel free to contact me at for a consultation.

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