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Dementia: When Traumatic Memories Surface

Alzheimer’s and dementia expert Forrest Stepnowski joins Suzanne to talk about dementia, particularly when someone with dementia has gone through a traumatic event. Forrest is CarePartners Living’s Executive Director of The Cottages at Renton, in Seattle.

Forrest says, “Whether people choose to admit it, trauma — like we used to treat dementia — is an invisible diagnosis that no one wants to talk about. And even if we ourselves have exhibited or experienced something traumatic in our life, that can be very, very scary for us to bring up. Sometimes we forget that our memories come back, and people are getting hit by these memories of traumatic events to the point where… it could be child abuse. Dare I say rape, sexual trauma, all those things come back as dementia progresses itself. And that is something that people forget about. When you see somebody who has dementia, and you start seeing them layer up, and they’re being paranoid, and they’re being guarded, we have to look at that part. And when we discover that piece, we’re able to treat them better. We’re able to provide better care and understanding of why, we’re able to speak their language and help them with their care. All those things play a role.

Suzanne asked about PTSD statistics. Forrest explains, “In Washington State is estimated that 80% of our population has suffered a trauma of some sort. PTSD is one of the number one hidden diagnoses, or least diagnosed. Different populations in the ’80s and ’70s – women especially were misdiagnosed as bipolar versus PTSD – be fair, in the ’80s, they didn’t even know what PTSD was. Everyone’s always had that identified to people who were soldiers, especially people from Vietnam.”

Contact Forrest Stepnowski at The Cottages at Renton at (425) 528-7070. CarePartners has communities in Arizona and the state of Washington.

Learn more:

* The Cottages at Renton: https://www.carepartnersliving.com/cottages-of-renton/
* CarePartners Senior Living: https://answersforelders.com/carepartners-senior-living/
* CarePartners website: https://www.carepartnersliving.com/

Hear more:
* Shows by CarePartners: https://answersforelders.com/tag/carepartners-living/

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