Category Archives: Dementia

Not Just a Gift – Give a Memory

Perfect gifts for a loved one progressing with Dementia.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, our thoughts often stray towards “What is the perfect gift?” “What can I give my loved one who needs nothing?”  Too often, we end up with the typical fallback items of pajamas, socks, a shawl, or slippers.  

For a loved one who has progressing dementia or is elderly and wants/needs nothing, these items may be a nice gesture but will soon be lost or forgotten.  Consider instead a gift that may spark a memory, create some engagement, provide a warm fuzzy feeling, or can be a friend.  You could enhance their life by giving something therapeutic and engaging.

Here are some gifts that may bring a smile, encourage conversation, and/or provide comfort:

  • Tag a Photo – Take a current family photograph and write the names of each member across their picture. This may help reduce some frustration when your loved one can’t remember who the people are.
  • Engage conversation and memories with photos – Go through photos or photo albums and write the names on the front or back.  Spend time sharing the photos and talking about the people, the event, the vacation or occasion that relates to the photos.
  • Buy a Twiddle and spend some play time together.  Twiddles are a playful activity/comfort aide designed to keep hands and minds active and engaged, or soothed and calmed.  You can purchase Twiddles on Amazon (  Use Amazon Smile and you can also give a gift to a charity at no extra cost to you!  Amazon sends a portion of proceeds to your charity – I recommend Dementia Action Alliance.
  • Bring some comfort through a companion – A soft & squishy stuffed animal or baby doll can provide a warm fuzzy feeling and something to cuddle.  An animated dog or cat that barks/purrs, snores and rolls over can offer the warmth and enhance the sense of touch and hearing.  These sounds can be soothing.  Joy For All ( has some lovely pets for adoption.
  • Memory Picture/Photo Phone – These phones make phone calls easier by clicking a photo rather than a name or phone number.  There is a large selection of styles and most include hands free dialing as well.
  • Digital Day Clock – Large display digital clocks that show the Day, Date and Time are a wonderful aide to help maintain independence.   They come in a variety of models and functions which include alarms and reminders.
  • Weighted Blanket or Shawl – Many people find that a weighted blanket or shawl can help reduce anxiety and provide a feeling of being cuddled and comforted.
  • Easy Remote – A variety of remote controls are available to simplify usage.  This can be extremely helpful to reduce confusion.
  • Puzzles – Personalized puzzles with a family photo or specific memory 
  • Personalized Memory Game – take the concentration game to a new level with a Personalized Memory Game! Enjoy a memory game and memories at the same time! A great way to spend time together and stimulate conversation and memories.
  • Drawings by children – have the children or grand-children, draw or color pictures and tape them to the wall.  Children’s drawings always bring a smile!
  • Games & Activities – Search the internet for Games for Dementia – there are many activity books for people living with dementia
  • Gel Seat Cushion – As the amount of sitting increases as the amount of ability decreases, something “cushy for the tushy” is sure to soothe more than just the soul.
  • Guest Book Register Book  – ask all guest to “sign-in” each time they come and review the guest book together  

The most important gift is YOUR TIME.  Make your gift special by including time to engage with your loved one to talk about photos, play games, color, sing or read together.  Time is much more precious than slippers.

Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love & laughter! 


Dementia Does Not Define Me

Dementia does not define who I am. It is merely a small part of the many facets of my
life, affecting decisions and changes in how I live.

I am Laurie Scherrer, and I am a wife, a writer, a SCUBA Diver, an educator, and an advocate. I’m a traveler and a speaker. Oh, and I am also living with dementia.

People that live with dementia should not be reduced to simply a diagnostic label
pronounced by a doctor. Nor should they be stigmatized by a society that sees the
diagnosis rather than individual abilities and identities.

Living with dementia does not automatically equal total memory loss, inability to make
our own decisions, nor undeserving of living an independent life enriched with purpose,
beauty, and fulfillment.

We are not defined solely by a label of dementia. As with most people, we are the
cultivation of our upbringing, culture, spiritual fulfillment, lived experiences,
accomplishments, failures, and our many challenges.

The medical profession and those in our communities often perceive us as incapable of
contributing to any aspect of daily living. We are viewed as dying of dementia rather
than LIVING WITH dementia. We are viewed as having limitations, which makes us feel
worthless and incompetent.

Together, we will lift our voices to shout out that we are not a label and dementia does
not define who we are. Together we can focus on our abilities, not our inabilities, and on how we can be of help to others and thus help ourselves.

Love & Laughter,


Re-Imagine Dementia

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer.

During a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, I enjoyed the experience of parasailing off Table Mountain.  Although, truth be told, I found the slow descent of parasailing much less thrilling than my sky diving adventure – it was still exciting.

I was able to view Cape Town from a totally different perspective.  Rather than seeing a crowded city full of buildings that were prominent at street level, I was able to take in the beauty that surrounded it.   The ocean, the mountains, and hills, and the dolphins playing, that were hidden by concrete changed the way I saw Cape Town.

“If you change the way you look at dementia, the people living with dementia will change.” – Laure’s version.

Last week, after speaking at the National Research Summit on Dementia Care, I was encouraged about how the perception of dementia is slowly starting to shift.  People living with dementia were included in the program and many of the presentations incorporated the importance of including people living with dementia in decisions.  Wow – this is the beginning of progress!  The stigma of dementia and the way people look at dementia is starting to change!

, It’s time to re-image dementia from a different view and change the attitude from people dying of dementia to people living with dementia, from caregiver to care partner, and to focus on the individual’s abilities rather than their disabilities.

Love & Laughter,


Dementia Care - Revolutionizng Personal Care

Revolutionizing Dementia Care – The Documentary

In our world of dementia, I’ve learned that there are still so, so many things that we can do. We just have to do it different[ly]…

I mourn the fact that I can’t do a lot of things in life… So, a lot of mentoring is helping people to understand, ‘No you can’t do all the things you did do, but you still can do a lot.‘


Documentary from PBS Living with Dementia

Revolutionizing Dementia Care reveals how people living with dementia can still live a full and meaningful life based on their abilities, not their disabilitiesThank you to PBS and Dementia Action Alliance for their support and encouragement. Please support these organizations.

Dementia Care - Revolutionizng Personal Care
You can watch the full documentary here:

Innovative approaches in memory care communities have shown improvements in the well-being of residents as they’re included, engaged and supported in social gatherings, clubs, and everyday activities. A revolution is here where people living with dementia get the individual heart-felt care they need.” – Community Idea Stations PBS



Dementia Doesn't Stop this Travel Enthusiast AARP

AARP The Face of Dementia – Living with Hope

Living with Hope.

I was featured on AARP! ~Click to Watch the video!

 Currently, there is no hope for a cure, but there is hope for having a meaningful life after diagnosis. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to share how those who have dementia can live with HOPE and continue to THRIVE in their daily lives. ~Laurie

Dementia Doesn't Stop this Travel Enthusiast AARP

Here’s another promo video that gives a brief summary of the series. ~Enjoy

Face of Dementia Living with Hope Play Video‘Click the video image’ to watch on their website.

Accepting Change

Like the waves hitting the beach, life is constantly changing and we are constantly changing with it.  Change is an inevitable part of life.  We develop, we age.   We laugh, we cry.  We dislike, we love.   And as our lives transform, we either try to deny or resist the change, take action to modify the change, and/or we embrace the transformation and work with (or through) it.

Although there are many things in our lives we can take control of, not all changes can be modified. Not all changes are welcome.   There will always be people, circumstances, occurrences and events that we don’t like and don’t want to have invade our perfect world.

For my husband Roy and I, the major changes came in the form of illness.  For me, it was a diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s and Frontal-temporal Degeneration.   For Roy, it was a diagnosis of Common Variable Immune Deficiency.  Both are life altering medical conditions that have and will continue to impact our plans, dreams and daily activities.

Throughout my life I have always believed in the power of a positive attitude and grasping each challenge as an opportunity.  My house, office and car were a collection of positive affirmations like “If I think I can or can’t – I’m absolutely right”, “If it’s to be, It’s up to me”,

“I have a choice – I can let my mind shape me or I can shape my mind” and many more.  Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote outlines how beliefs shape destiny: “Your beliefs become your thought, Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become Your values, Your values become your destiny”.

Although positive thinking is not always easy, staying in the habit helped me to accept and often excel through some of my more difficult challenges.  However, when I was diagnosed with dementia, I found myself drifting away from a positive attitude.  I felt that I couldn’t change things and IT wasn’t up to me and I had NO choice. I felt my little engine that once could, had no control to make it up this hill of life. I was becoming sad and depressed.

After my self-inflicted pity party, I realized that I needed to accept my diagnosis and the changes it would bring and make the best of whatever time I could.  I found that the stress and worry of denial and non-acceptance was draining what energy I did have.

“Accept what you cannot change.  Change what you cannot accept”.  After a period of grief, anger, and denial, I began to seek my old self.  I found that once I accepted the changes my life was going to take, I began to appreciate the joy and beauty around me.  As my stress lessened – my confusion lessed and my energy level increased.  The more I embraced the change with a positive attitude, the more Roy and I were able to discover ways to reduce the amount of “dementia daze” (the state of confusion and disorientation) and the more I was able to feel joy again.

To me, embracing change means accepting that it is unescapable and with a positive disposition determining how to make the best of it.  Together, Roy and I are learning to embrace our challenges and modify our objectives and our life style. We are finding some of the things that trigger confusion and figuring out ways to overcome the hurdles that prevented me from enjoying life. “I can’t” has become “How CAN I”.

Yes, I still have challenges and days of confusion, disorientation, fear and emotions. However, most of my days are full of purpose and love.  While embracing the challenges of change, we are also embracing every moment with joy.

Love & Laugher,