Dementia researcher now has dementia: “I can live with it anyway”

Former nursing home doctor Anneke van der Plaats (78) has spent years researching people with dementia. The method that she developed to make their lives more pleasant appears to work, according to various nursing homes that work with her insights. She told about it a year and a half ago News Hour. Now it appears that Anneke herself has dementia.

During the lectures she gave in the country, it became increasingly clear that she was getting worse. “Everyone who knows Anneke and had seen her give a lecture somewhere, said:” well that didn't go so well with your mother, “says son Peter. “She collapses, eats badly, confuses the day and night rhythm, forgets appointments. I saw more and more problems. It didn't work at home anymore.”

And so Anneke had to go to a nursing home. “At least I can live with it, I can write pieces,” she says about her diagnosis. “And the rooms and things are fine here. And whatever I see, the behavior of the caretakers is all from the book, so to speak.”

Simple interventions

Anneke refers to her own book. In it she writes that the lives of people with severe dementia can be a lot more pleasant with a few simple interventions. The immediate environment of a patient has a major influence on his or her behavior. It can make the difference between being relaxed and a life full of fear.

“The brain is completely dependent on the environment in all brain patients. A favorable environment gives favorable behavior and an unfavorable environment gives negative behavior”, Anneke explained in 2017. This is the basis of the Brain Environment Methodology devised by her.

The idea of ​​a familiar environment that reassures people with dementia has been adopted by various nursing homes. The Lorentz house in Velp even set up so-called 'experience niches' where residents can recall memories. For example an old-fashioned children's room with dolls, where residents can play with.

“You have not yet been charged”

Anneke has not completely stopped her work. And son Peter, who has just completed his training as a dementia counselor, plans to continue his mother's theories. “I promised her that too, and she thought it was great.”

Anneke is even working on a new book. Peter helps her with that. “I want to support her in that. Just the feeling of: you're still there. You're still worth everything. You can still do it. You're not yet written off.”

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