At the University of Waterloo our research positively impacts our society and the lives of those in our community. At the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, research and educational activities are intergrated in an effort to improve dementia care practices in Canada. MAREP works with researchers, people with dementia, families, staff and community members in the Waterloo region to build knowledge around effective practices for care and support.
One of the foundations to MAREP’s approach to research and education is to involve people with dementia in their own care. By shifting the role from passive to active, people with dementia have an important role to paly and shaping best practices around new models for care and support. The partner of an individual who is currently working with MAREP remarked that it is this unique approach that allows her husband and others living with dementia to contribute and remain a useful member of society.
Currently, MAREP in partnership with Lakehead University and the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, is working on a program called Self-Management. The main foundational skills this program seeks to provide is the ability to adapt to change, to find meaning and purpose in life, and to maintain communication with family and the community while living with dementia. One outcome of this research study is to create a toolkit on involving people living with dementia and care partners in the program planning process. Research participants believe that without the true and trusting partnerships made possible by MAREP’s approach to working with people living with dementia and their families, the proposed model would not exist.
In recognition of Alzheimer awareness month, MAREP presented “My Life, My Dementia – Stories of Self-Management”. Panelists, including people with dementia, their partners, health care professionals and Elaine Wiersma, PhD, were welcomed to speak about the stigma around dementia, and to promote the concept of taking control of your life, and taking action to live well with dementia. As the search for an effective treatment continues, it is important that people who have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia receive the best care possible and are provided with support and opportunities to live meaningful lives.