Profile PicHi, my name is Connie Bohager and I have survived 15+ years of living with dementia. Let me explain.

When someone is living with dementia, the whole family is living with dementia. I  cared for my mother for 7 years while experiencing all phases of Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease along with 8 years as a professional nurse caring for geriatric patients with all manner of diseases the most prevalent of which was dementia.

Fifteen years ago we did not know what we know today and I only wish that the research that is available today had been available then.

We did things very differently and there wasn’t much help for the caregiver. I was fortunate to have someone tell me about a program through the Agency On Aging that provided for a caregiver during the day so I could work. Like most families dealing with this situation, there are all kinds of family obligations and being single I had to earn a living.

During this time I went back to school to become a nurse where I learned about this disease. I learned how to help those living with this disease. I grew to love these precious souls although at times the caring was very challenging.

Today the need is even greater…Dementia is affecting families at an alarming rate. With no cure or understanding of the cause, I feel it is necessary to help families dealing with this situation. My focus is not only for the person with the dementia, but to support the caregiver.

Our approach to care-giving years ago was based on redirection and reinforcement. Today, through the teaching of Teepa Snow of Positive Approach to Care, we know there is a much better way. I have completed my training and am proud to be a PAC Certified Independent Trainer with a focus on what a person has left, not what he has lost.

Dementia is not a memory problem. It is brain failure. Think of it as heart failure or kidney failure. Caregivers who care for people with CHF or Kidney Failure are not dealing with the situations that face the caregiver caring for someone with dementia. There are many challenges and hurdles to cross. Knowing that this will be a long term journey into the unknown will help, but it is crucial that the caregiver learn about this disease, understand what is to come and get the proper help and support needed for this journey.  The best description of dementia I have found came from a family caregiver who put it this way:

“…But I have learned the hard way that you can’t converse or reason with dementia, it doesn’t know you or care about you, and it can become enraged and violent when it feels afraid or thwarted.  Dementia has its own bizarre reality, and engages in magical thinking and ‘covering’ behaviors that at first glance seem ok to outsiders, but break down under close scrutiny. 

Dementia takes responsibility for none of its choices or actions, blames all of its problems and failures on the caregiver, and conveniently forgets the entire hurtful scene just in time to demand yet again what it wants… 

Dementia slowly and insidiously destroys the mind of the person you know and love, taking over their body and looking out from their eyes.  Worse yet, every time you have hardened your heart and made the decision to ‘just deal with forcibly moving them into full-time care,’ dementia will release its grip just  enough to allow a glimpse of your loved one, and your heart breaks all over again.  It’s like the Pod People, only it’s not a movie that ends in 90 minutes…”

I am here to support you and help answer your most burning issues so you can feel a sense of satisfaction and assurance that you are making the best decisions for your loved one. This journey is a long and lonely road and is best traveled with someone who has traveled it and understands you and your pain. I encourage you to reach out for help early.

God Bless you and your family…