Dr. Richard Taylor believes a person remains whole up to the moment they die — even if they suffer from dementia.
“Dementia is a word, pulled from the world of stigma. Many with dementia feel half-empty and that they will soon die. But we all will eventually die,” said Taylor, a retired psychologist who will be the featured speaker at the Nov. 1 Alzheimer’s Triumphs and Trials conference of the Greater Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Davenport.
The daylong convention will be at the Radisson Quad-City Plaza in downtown Davenport.
Taylor was diagnosed with dementia several years ago and wrote a 2006 book, “Alzheimer’s From the Inside Out.” He is a founder and former member of the Early Stage Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Association, and he received the 2006 Ronald Reagan Award for courage, also from the Alzheimer’s Association.
He will tell conference participants that individuals “are not closer to dying simply because a doctor told them they have dementia,” Taylor said.
Those with dementia need to stay engaged and be loved, as well as to feel good about themselves, he said. That should happen no matter what type of dementia is diagnosed, he added.
“Many people will withdraw from life prematurely because they believe in the stigmas. People stop coming around and there is a hole in our lives. It’s as if we feel there is a hole in our brain and it leaks out when we sleep on our pillows at night,” he explained.
Taylor advocates a more humane approach to caring for those with dementia.
“As we get into the symptoms and have more trouble expressing ourselves, our feelings become very important to us. Many miss that point because we get messed up in our words,” he said.
The annual convention is intended to provide both professional and home-care partners with current, state-of-the-art information about caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It also will offer a look at the successes and challenges associated with the disorders and discuss current medial research.
While Taylor is the featured speaker, other presentations will come from Connie Lucas with the Alzheimer’s Association, on understanding the disease and how to care for people who have it, plus Dr. Heather Snyder on medical research. She is associated with the Alzheimer’s Association.