Book Review by Lauretta Kaldor – 2 October 2015

Engaging and Communicating with people who live have Dementia
Finding and using their strengths

Author Eileen Eisner
Available from the Alzheimer’s Library NSW

This is a detailed and valuable resource that will assist recreation staff working with dementia clients particularly those in residential care who have dementia. Older people tend to remain in their own environment longer and by the time they come into residential care their challenges to leisure have become more complex. Many residential facilities with whom I work tell me that 80-100% of their residents have dementia. Therefore activities that worked at their facility 10 years ago no longer are suitable. This resource analyses the concept of strength based programming and helps the staff do leisure profiling and planning based on a comprehensive analysis of what are the remaining areas of intelligence. It then suggests what a client might do and how doing a particular activity will be beneficial. Added into this analysis is area for choice.

Eisner lists the retained intelligences as verbal-linguistic, Mathematical-logical, Visual-spatial, Auditory-musical, Tactile Kinaesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal and Naturalistic. These are based on the Informal Geriatric Strength based Inventory.

The resource also includes downloadable assessment forms and examples of how these are filled in using client histories. These forms are a vast improvement on leisure assessment forms I have observed that have been in used in the past.

The key to effective programming that allows for engagement and enjoyment is a good leisure assessment. Too often we tend to want to get on with the job of doing activities without proper research, assessment and listening to choice and working with retained abilities.
This book is up-to-date and very practical. There are also chapters on strength based interventions. I found the section on using technology and lists of appropriate Apps very useful.

For those who work in the community with dementia clients, this resource would also be invaluable and also for students, care staff and family members.

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