Creating Opportunities for Persons with Dementia
My name is Ashlie Glassner, RN, and I am a nursing PhD student at UT Health San Antonio. I’ve been a nurse for 8 years, with the majority of my experience in critical care. I spent many years taking care of patients living with dementia.
However, it wasn’t until my father had dementia symptoms that I realized how much of an impact dementia can have on a person’s identity, mental health, and their quality of life. He passed away in 2017, and his passing changed my life and how I viewed persons living with dementia.
I entered into the PhD program in 2018 and took an interest in learning more about persons living with dementia and how we can provide support. Based on my experiences as a nurse, I already knew most persons living with dementia are treated differently than those without dementia. I also saw how my father was treated differently after having his stroke and developed dementia symptoms. There is a great deal of stigma and many stereotypes around dementia. I strongly disagree with these stereotypes, and I want to make changes for the community. I want everyone else to see what I see: that persons living with dementia are still capable of so much and are still whole human beings. Persons living with dementia have a disability, but they can adapt and cope with the changes they face and have so much to offer.
I want to increase awareness about dementia and learn more from those living with dementia. So I started getting out into the community to meet more persons living with dementia. Over a year ago, I started to facilitate a support group with the Alzheimer’s Association for persons living with dementia and I am so grateful for how much the group members are willing to share with me. I have learned so much from them. I also developed a memory café with the Alzheimer’s Association almost one year ago. The memory café has been a wonderful experience and it gives me so much joy to meet with attendees and do fun activities with them in a dementia-friendly environment. Together, we paint, we sing, we reminiscence. Dementia doesn’t take away our ability to enjoy each other’s company.
Right now, I am also working on a study with a co-researcher. The woman I work with is a person living with dementia. She is my friend and my partner on this project. She has been with me every step of the way and her insight and perspective is extremely valuable. I cannot imagine doing this study without her. In the future, I hope to have other persons living with dementia to work with and do research with.
If you or someone you know is currently living with dementia and would like to help with this research, please contact me at 210-900-2871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.