Living Normally with Dementia tells the successful story of Dagmarsminde, a small innovative nursing home in Denmark with a remarkable and life-affirming approach to dementia care.
The philosophy and lived experiences of this model home are illustrated with real examples and vignettes from day-to-day care. The founder and staff offer a replicable approach to helping their residents with dementia enjoy a richer, more normal-feeling life than residents receiving the “usual care” in most settings. The staff, in turn, enjoy the professional rewards of following their calling to this work with confidence and compassion.
Person-centered practices define the daily routine and include a focus on good nutrition, contact with nature, healthy physical activities, and as much independence in activities of daily living as possible. The needs and progress of each resident are paramount.
From the time a new resident arrives at the home until the person has died, the goal of care is to help residents
- Thrive in a home where they are heard and respected at all times
- Have a medication-free existence as much as possible
- Remain independently mobile by walking without assistive devices unless absolutely necessary
- Enjoy family-style dining with staff and residents together
- Experience ordinary sights and sounds of nature—from household pets to small farm animals, garden flowers, and nearby woods
This book invites leaders, direct care partners, students, and families to immerse themselves in a home that operates very differently from traditional, institutional nursing homes. The goal is to help readers in the U.S. and around the world envision new, more satisfying ways of working with people living with dementia and to explore new approaches in their own care homes.
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About the Author
Foreword, by G. Allen Power, M.D.
Introduction to Dagmarsminde
Part I. The Rehabilitating and Stabilizing Phase
- The Move: Crossing the Threshold to a New Life
- Aesthetics: Balancing the Mind with Décor
- The Craft of Nursing: Good Judgment and Hands-on Care
- The Call to Service: The Selfless Workplace
- Tapering Off Medication: Purification and Stability
- Exercise: Active Residents Seize the Day
- Assistive Devices for Mobility
- Working with Energies: A Dynamic Balance
- The Circadian Rhythm: Open-eyed Residents
- The Routine: Together from Morning till Night
- Sanatorium Practices
- The Great Outdoors: Sensing at the Highest Level
- Nourishing Body and Mind
- Continuing Family Traditions
- Under Observation: Looking After the Health of Our Residents
Part II. The Weakening Phase
- Swallowing Problems: When Eating Solid Foods is Difficult
- Approaching the End of Life
Part III. The Final Phase
- Working with the Family
- The Dying Process
- The Wake
May Bjerre Eiby is a certified nurse with a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Aarhus in Denmark. Most of her work has been with older adults in nursing homes and hospitals. In 2016, she established Dagmarsminde, a small nursing home north of Copenhagen for people with dementia. Her goal was to create a care home founded on more compassionate, person-centered practices than she had found in other care settings, especially for those with dementia. The approach to care at Dagmarsminde is built on a deep knowledge of each resident’s needs and personalized care emphasizing comfort, individual attention, and active engagement of staff with both the residents and their relatives. In adopting this vision, the staff at Dagmarsminde have successfully eliminated the use of anti-psychotic medicines and sedatives and enabled their residents to live active, normal lives in the company of others.
Eiby has lectured around the world on the current state of dementia care and her distinctive approach to it. In 2021, in recognition of her efforts to challenge the status quo in elder care, she earned the prestigious Fonsmark Prize, awarded to a Danish citizen who helps raise public awareness. In addition, Dagmarsminde is the subject of the 2021 documentary directed by Louis Detlefsen, It Is Not Over Yet.
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