A hopeful and practical guide to taming the challenges of dementia with creative interventions inspired by real stories of sufferers and caregivers alike.
If you've ever cared for someone with dementia, you might empathize with Alice, who tumbled down a rabbit hole and discovered herself in an unhappy world where time moved oddly, animals and plants spoke, but mostly to berate you. Familiar objects became terribly out of scale. If you're caring for someone with dementia now, you might feel like someone changed the rules of reality and that you need a guide, preferably someone kinder than the perennially late rabbit.
This book supports the journey—taken by both the caregiver and the person with dementia—providing loved ones with practical recommendations and enriched with human empathy. This book helps ease the stress by offering interventions and non-pharmaceutical therapeutic suggestions. It helps decode dementia's visceral world and supports non-cognitive human experiences. It shares stories of real people struggling to survive the challenges presented by dementia paired with practical examples of interventions that target the miseries of dementia behaviors, triggers, and causalities induced by them. The book provides options in the art of caregiving alongside the power of place, furnishings, light, color, technology, nature, and the senses.
Barbara Huelat explores options in human engagement, the experience of destinations, positive distractions, familiar settings, furnishings, light, color, technology, nature, and the emotion of the senses. She offers design interventions that support the family caregivers in functional and emotional outcomes. No cure exists for dementia, but the tips, tools, strategies and suggestions include here provide tools for caregivers and those with dementia to make the experience more comfortable and calm.
Barbara J. Huelat, FASID, AAHID, EDAC, is nationally recognized for work in patient-centered design. Her three decades as a design practitioner cover virtually all types, components and sizes of domestic and international healthcare, government, and VA facilities. Currently, she is Design Principal of the interiors firm Healing Design in Alexandria, VA. She is a past president of the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers. Barbara has been honored with numerous design awards for projects of excellence, as well as personal recognition for ASID, Designer of Distinction, Humanities Design Award, Luminary Award and Fellow. Huelat has authored two books: Healing Environments: Design for the Body Mind & Spirit and Healing Environments, What’s the Proof? Barbara lectures frequently on a spectrum of healthcare design topics. She resides in Alexandria, VA.
Sharon Pochron is faculty in the Sustainability Studies Program at Stony Brook University. She runs an environmental science laboratory and has published many peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from caregiving for dementia to primate behavior. She has also published nature articles for kids in places like Muse magazine and Highlights for Children. She lives in Stony Brook, NY.
Dementia takes a toll on loved ones, and Huelat, with her daughter, Pochron, offers a candid account of lessons learned during her own caregiving journeys. She watched over her mother, diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia, and her husband, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Huelat’s well-written guide should appeal to a broad audience since dementia is the most common disability among the elderly.… She offers sound ideas such as installing motion-sensor lights by bathrooms and stairs, using clothing with Velcro and snaps, exploring the outdoors, making a playlist of favorite music, and reminiscing with photo albums. “Our people have had long and rich and interesting lives,” Huelat writes. “The dementia part is only a short chapter.” Helpful and uplifting.
We are all caregivers at some point in our lives but taking care of a loved one is often not openly discussed. This remarkable book dares to be honestly raw about caring for a loved one with dementia. Compassion, frustration, tears, patience, impatience, acceptance, guilt – the full range of emotions experienced by both those with dementia as well as those providing the care. Exhaustive emotions that run in a circle while you grieve the loss of a person you once knew. There is only the present moment a caregiver gets to see, a glimpse, a hug, a tear, a touch, and hope for a brief glimmer of recognition. This amazing, empathetic, book covers not only the experiences through personal stories but provides evidence-based insights and solutions to help all caregivers cope with the process of caring for a loved one with dementia, or “our person” as so poignantly referenced in Taming the Chaos of Dementia. This is a book for everyone to read – as it sparks the humanity in all of us.
Taming the Chaos of Dementia brings valuable insight in how dementia induced behaviors of anxiety and confusion can be moderated with simple home environment interventions like color, sound, light and sensory engagement. For caregivers seeking to practice creative approaches enriching the lives of those journeying with dementia while caring for self, this book provides an insightful path for practical problem solving.
Despite billions in research dollars and numerous promises of pharmacologic cures that keep Wall Street buzzing - the “silver bullet” to relieve society of the burdens dementia eludes us. Barbara Huelat has seen dementia as a family member, care giver, designer and researcher. Few even approach her level experience and perspective on the subject of living with dementia. But beyond that breadth of experience, expertise, research and knowledge is a profound human hand in all the insights, pearls, hacks and advice. That steady human touch guiding the application of science and experience is really needed to “Tame the Chaos” Huelat and Pochron have been able to accumulate, assemble and present what is known scientifically combined with touching and real human experiences so that we can apply knowledge to challenges of dementia. Spoiler alert! -The reader may well end up with more insight into dementia care than a number of the healthcare providers they will encounter in their journey.
Huelat and Pochron liken being a personal caregiver for someone who has dementia to being like Alice finding herself in a disturbing new Wonderland after tumbling down a rabbit hole. Even more troubling is the reality that the size and gravitational pull of that rabbit hole will continue to exponentially increase as the baby boom generation ages into old age. In the absence of a cure or prevention for dementia, therapeutic interventions, including supportive home design features, have the potential to offer the most wide-ranging treatment opportunities to people around the globe. The need for sensitively designed home environments that support resilience in people and their caregivers is becoming critically important. Barbara Huelat, in particular, tackles this topic with the same research-oriented attention to detail as she has in her design work for the last five decades, providing the next generation of caregivers with practical tools and advice on how to leverage design to thrive in a complex situation.
10/2/23, Authority Magazine: Barbara Huelat is interviewed for a piece about reducing stress when caring for elderly or aging parents.
10/31/23, Chicago Suburban Family Magazine: Barbara Huelat wrote a piece about what to expect as a caregiver.
11/10/23, Healthcare Design Magazine: An article highlights Barbara Huelat being presented with the 2023 Changemaker Award by the Center for Health Design and the book is highlighted.