Unlocking Abilities

I’d like to introduce you to one of my heroes.  Kim Warchol, OTR/L (Occupational Therapist) is the president of an organization called Dementia Care Specialists.  She has made a career of going around the U.S., turning people (not just therapists, but other health-care professionals as well as family members) on to the benefits of the Allen Cognitive model for staging persons with dementia.  I’ve written about this model before, and I’m totally a fan.  Rather than looking at what a person can’t do any longer, this model looks at what abilities remain.  We can use this knowledge to find ways of helping the individual do even more, perhaps by breaking a task down into discrete steps or by simply providing the right kind of encouragement.

In this video clip, Ms. Warchol speaks of a time when she and a colleague were called in to evaluate a woman who was largely unresponsive, and was said to have been actively dying.  And yet, after their team spent time interacting with this woman, she began to walk a bit, to feed herself, and to do more than anyone had ever thought possible for her.  And she was continuing to live a quality life 2 1/2 years later.

Sit back, now, and listen to a truly inspiring woman.


  1. August 3, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Great work! Overmedicating seems to be a prevalent problem in senior living facilities. I definitely felt like my dad was overmedicated at his facility, he shuffled around like a zombie, it was very sad.

    • August 3, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Thank goodness that trend is starting to decline. But, all too often, the quick fix for a behavior problem is to give a pill. And so many times the answer is much easier than that. With time, hopefully we can work to effect a change.

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