The Pro in Your Corner

“What dementia coaches do is try to help caregivers really focus on the issue at hand and not become overwhelmed by everything else because ... you feel that you're now responsible for somebody else's life,” says Kerry Mills, a dementia coach from Westchester, N.Y.

“We teach families as well as paid care partners or volunteer care partners what is going on with the person who has dementia, what's going on in their brain, what's the disease, what's not,” Mills explained. “This awareness helps family members avoid becoming defensive and judgmental, and not feel that they have to correct every single thing once they start to understand that the brain is just breaking down.”

This awareness helps family members avoid becoming defensive and judgmental.

Coaches also help caregivers better handle these changes by learning different ways to respond and approach their loved one.

“The main philosophy of a dementia coach is that we plan for tomorrow, but we live for today,” she says. “It avoids having people live with the stress of what could happen with the disease; rather, let's live for what's happening with your loved one today. So what do we need to do just a little bit differently?”

Mills says coaches differ from other care advocates because “it’s not about me going and doing it for people. It's about helping them become the care partner that they want to be, to have the satisfaction of doing a great job in that role.”


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Liz Seegert

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